By Rabbi Daniel Travis
The Almighty said, "Let us make adam (man) in our image and our
likeness." (Bereshith 1:26)
God said, "Let us make man" while consulting with His Heavenly Court.1 In
fact, every Divine decision follows the same protocol. God will not
declare a decision to be "emeth" until it has first been discussed with
His Heavenly Court.2
God's omniscience renders any advice useless. What can He be told that He
does not already know? Yet God has decided not to finalize any judgment
without first consulting with His creatures. The lesson for us is clear:
people can not expect to arrive at correct decisions without consulting
with others beforehand.
King Solomon once demonstrated that through his wisdom he could reach a
true decision without the aid of others. Two women approached him, each of
whom just given birth to a baby boy. One mother told the king that her own
baby was alive and her friend's baby had died, while the second woman said
that her friend's baby was dead, and that her baby was alive. King Solomon
detected from the order of the second woman's statement that her main
concern was that the other woman's child was still alive. In order to
prove that the first woman was the true mother, he ruled that the baby
should be cut in half, each woman receiving half. When the second woman
agreed to this, it was clear that she had been lying.
After this tremendous display of human insight, King Solomon asked God
that he be permitted to make judicial rulings by himself, without the aid
of witnesses. A heavenly voice proclaimed that his request had been
refused. Only after taking council with others can one hope to arrive at
Why is it so important to ask for advice? Human perspective is limited,
especially since humans are often afflicted by bias. Since each person has
their unique perspective on any given situation, another person's view can
catch what one's own eyes missed. As our Sages taught, "The more advice
one seeks (from people who are qualified to offer it), the more
understanding one will have."4
1. Rashi on Bereshith 1:26.
2. Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 2a.
3. Rosh Hashanah 21b, according to the commentary of the Maharitz
4. Pirkei Avoth 2:7.
Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org