“[He] will fall into the trap he made.” (7:16)
There is something satisfying about catching and correcting errors. Somehow, we feel like we are making the world better. But to set someone up for failure so they make a mistake that we step in to correct is another thing entirely. Not only is it a violation of “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14), but it is an action taken only to boost our own ego, not to do any kind of tikkun (repair) in the world. When our ego pushes us to act rashly, we will find ourselves taking unwise action that will eventually come back to bite us.
“Adonai, turn!” (6:5)
The idea that God changes is challenging to many people. If God changes, then the earlier pronouncements of God must not have been correct – therefore, God is not perfect. If God was perfect, then God would never need to change. However, God’s covenant and relationship is with us, with human beings, and perforce needs to change because we change. God’s changes, then, are motivated by who we are at any given moment. God’s malleability, therefore, is a model for us. If God can change and respond to us, then we can change and respond not only to God, but to the people around us. Where do you need to change?
“Let them fall by their own devices.” (5:11)
Most of our failures are not caused by other people sabotaging our lives. Most of the time when we run into problems, if we look carefully we’ll see that we are the primary cause of our difficulties. When we fail, it is most often because we didn’t sufficiently prepare or because we didn’t pay attention to the signs that were trying to warn about the “bridge out ahead!” We blithely continued on, ignoring the warnings, until we drove right off the bridge. And then we screamed all the way down, blaming everyone except ourselves for our plight, which was caused by our own lack of attention.
“Ponder it on your bed, and be still.” (4:5)
Rare is the day on which all of our work, in the broadest sense of the word, gets done. We nearly always leave something undone, something we could have done better. That’s OK – it’s part of being human. Being human, though, is just a bit less than being Divine – which means that while messing up is expected, so is self-analysis. As you lie in bed at night, calm your breathing and review your day. Choose something that could have gone better. Even if 90% of the problem was caused by someone else’s mistake, identify one thing that you contributed to the problem and one thing that you could have done to avert or lessen it.
“I lie down and sleep and wake again.” (3:6)
We sleep to recharge ourselves so that we can wake up in the morning with energy, ready to embrace any and all possibilities that the day might present to us, with a smile and a positive attitude. It is a blessing of the highest order to be able to lie down and know that we’ve given our best effort over the course of the day. When we can lie down with satisfaction for how we’ve conducted ourselves and with no regrets for the things that we have left undone or the things that we have to apologize for tomorrow, we can sleep the sleep of the righteous.