Your Wife Bought a New Dress – Did You Notice?

You enter the beit knesset wearing a new and expensive suit.

The chacham (wise one) will notice and say, “It is a good fit. You look good in it.”

The rasha (wicked one) will notice as well and say, “A new suit? Not bad. But, to tell you the truth, it makes you look fat.”

The tam (simple one) will indeed notice that something is new, but he won’t be able to pinpoint what exactly it is, and will just ask, “Something different about you? What is it?”

And then, there will be the one who won’t notice at all that you are wearing a new suit. That is the person who takes no notice of how others look. He is too busy with his own affairs – let’s assume they are good affairs – but they prevent him from really seeing others, noticing changes that appear in the world. And therefore he is eino yode’a lish’ol – he doesn’t know to ask.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Chabad Rebbe, said before Pesach of 1943 (5903) that the son “who does not know to ask” is the person who is so immersed in himself that he does not see that things are happening around him, things that should arouse questions in him.

In other words, the first and most basic expectation from us is that when something unusual happens to us, whether as individuals or as a community – the Jewish nation as a whole, or R’ Yid – we will pay attention and ask a question. After that we need to know what to ask, because, as mentioned, there are a few ways to pose a question; but one must not be a she’eino yode’a lish’ol.

A believing Jew knows that the Creator has many ways to motivate a person to do positive deeds, deeds that can correct, improve and upgrade himself and his environment. A believing Jew knows that Hashem normally does not send a registered letter with detailed instructions as to what to do and how, but, rather, presents a person with events, interactions, information and deeds that will serve as landmarks and guides. But for that to happen, a person must make sure that he is not in the category of the son who does not know to ask.

By the way, I purposely didn’t bring an example of a husband who does not notice that his wife has bought a new dress, because, after all, Pesach is around the corner, not a good time to disrupt marital harmony…

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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