Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Building Off Failure

Today, October 13, is marked as the “International Day for Failure,” a day meant to encourage people to “celebrate our shortcomings and failures, share our experiences and promote the understanding of failure as a learning experience.” The creators of the “Day for Failure” encourage people to quite literally “share” their stupidities, errors and awkward moments with others.

The Torah recognizes the importance of learning from the errors we make and actually records how the foundations of human history are built on failures. Without the failure of Adam and Eve to abide by the one rule of the Garden of Eden - not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad - humankind might never have progressed, and would not have faced the challenge of learning how to build mature relationships with the Divine (relationships in which they could demonstrate true gratitude, since all was not simply given to them).

The failures of early humanity recorded in the Torah are epic. Cain murdered Abel, the generation of the flood erred so greatly that they were destroyed, Noah got drunk after the flood as soon as he came out of the ark, an entire generation tried to revolt against God when they built the tower of Babel, and onward. Following each failure, however, humankind moved forward. Most of the great “heroes” of the Torah also have their failings recorded.

Today is also the last day of the month of Tishrei, the month in which the Jewish people focus on teshuva, the act of repentance. To err is human - but to strive to do better is to aim for the Divine.

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