0 Posted by - July 9, 2015 - Bamidbar, Parsha


Parashat Pinhas


most powerful way to persuade and influence is to offer a vehicle that will get the person from his point A to his point B. Everyone has a point A, the place where they are at the moment. And everyone has a point B, the place where they desire to be in life.

If you want to influence or persuade someone to buy something, you need to know what his point A is and what his point B is, and to explain to him how you can get him faster to point B by his buying in to what you have to offer. If you try to motivate someone by telling him he should want something else, you are just confusing him. He might end up doing what you told him to, but only because you have manipulated him somehow.

The two most powerful ways to figure out what this “vehicle” is that will persuade or influence  is by tapping into the Identity and the Value system of the person in question. Why are identity and value systems so crucial? People’s decisions are generally based on these two major factors: Identity, and Value System. Identity is who you are, who you wish to be, who you associate yourself with, etcetera. Clarifying identity makes it possible to reach point B.  The Value System is why you do what you do; values are the motivator to get to point B. You can motivate a person to move toward what he wants by clarifying why he wants it.

How does a coach find out what a person’s identity is? He asks a lot of “Who” questions. Who do you want to be in a week/month/year/etc. ? Who do you respect? Who do you associate yourself with, and who do you want to associate yourself with? Who were you five years ago, and who are you today, and who do you want to be? Who are your parents, and in which way are you similar or different from them?

How does a coach find out a person’s value system? He asks a lot of “Why do you…”questions. “Why do you” questions, when asked without an agenda, (“Why do you read ThinkingaboutMe articles?” “Because I value self improvement”) will reveal the person’s values.  This way, if you can learn what the person’s point B is, and you can offer him something that he identifies with, or something he values, you have succeeded in influencing him or persuading him to accept your suggestion.

This is even more important in influencing and persuading ourselves to get to our own point B. Knowing our Identity and our Value System. Our value system is what we value and respect. Identity, is who we value and respect. The people we stand up for are the people that we respect, and the people who we respect are the people who we learn from and follow in our life decisions. With this knowledge of strengthening identity and value system, we can understand a mindboggling concept in Repentance.

In this week’s parasha, the passuk recalls the incident of Korah: “And the land opened its mouth, and it swallowed them (Datan and Aviram), and  Korah,  …. ויהיו לנס.” The last two words of the passuk mean and it was for a sign. The word נס  has several meanings, but the root refers to the supporting pole that holds up a flag, or sail. Rashi learns that in our passuk, the word is used as something that must be remembered, a warning sign for future generations not to oppose Priesthood.

But the Midrash has a different explanation, more in line with the root word נס  and appropriate to the following passuk, And the sons of Korah did not die. The Midrash learns that when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed Korah, Datan and Aviram, Korah’s sons were right there next to their father. A great miracle took place within the miracle of the earth opening its mouth. A piece of earth stood tall in the midst of the great opening of earth’s mouth. Like a pole, a נס.  It stood like a pillar, right under the feet of the sons of Korah, while their father was being swallowed.   Another opinion in the Midrash was that there was an even greater miracle. Each of the three sons of Korah stood in a different spot, near their father, Korah. Three pillars stood up for the sons of Korah, each pillar supporting a different son… And the world stands on three pillars, Avraham Yitzhak and Yaakov, or on the three pillars that held up the three sons of Korah.

The Midrash asks, What was the  merit that saved the sons of Korah? It was because at the time when they were sitting with Korah, their father, they saw Moshe coming, and they were utterly embarrassed. They said, If we stand up out of honor for Moshe, it will be a disgrace to our father, and we have a mitzvah to honor our father. And if we do not stand up for Moshe, we will lose the mitzvah of standing up for a Rabbi. They concluded that it was better to stand up for Moshe, even though it would be a disgrace to their father. At that moment, they whispered in their hearts thoughts of Teshuvah. It seems that the pillars stood up for them, for they stood up for Moshe. Standing up for Moshe saved the lives of three sons of Korah, in this world and the next.

We learn from here that Teshuva is different from all other Mitzvoth. Just thinking about Teshuvah is already a mitzvah. This concept is substantiated by an interesting law: if a man says to a woman, ‘You are betrothed to me, on the condition that I am a Tzaddik’, even if he was a Rasha, it is possible that she is, indeed, betrothed to him, and she needs a Get! Why? Because it could be that at the precise moment when he made his condition, he thought of doing Teshuva.  From here, we see the power of a sincere thought. If a person wants to be a Tzaddik, he is one.  What is this powerful thought of Teshuva that is mentioned in the case of the sons of Korah and in the Halacha, regarding the Rasha?

In both scenarios, the thoughts of Teshuvah are a paradigm shift – implying becoming a different identity, or embracing a different value system.   The sons of Korah stood up for what they respected, despite the paradoxical situation in which they found themselves. When we stand up for someone that we respect, we show reverence for that person and for what he stands for. The Rasha, as well, identified himself as being Tzaddik, and that type of thought is extremely powerful, because it is at the core of his being, defining his identity. The reason why these thoughts are so powerful is because with them, the person is נהפך לאיש אחר. Through this paradigm shift, the person became a person different from the sinner he used to be. And all of his life decisions will follow in line with his new identity and new value system. The world stands on these pillars that held up Korah’s sons, for these are the pillars that hold up the sincere Baal Teshuva.

No comments

Leave a reply