Rav Avigdor Miller on Learning From Your Friend’s Mistakes

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Q:
Should a person wait and not to cross at a red light when there is no traffic?

A:
No, he shouldn’t wait. Only that he has to check to make absolutely sure that there is no traffic. It’s common sense.

However, I must tell you that the matter of crossing the street when there is traffic is not a simple matter. Because people all think that nothing could ever happen to them. People are careless with their lives because they think that nothing could happen to them. It only happens to other people. You know, that this is an instinct in human beings. Just as they lived until now, and just like they’re alive right now, so they think it’s going to continue. And then suddenly it happens.

You have to make it a policy of yours to learn from experience. So whenever we hear of an accident, we should never let that opportunity go by. We should know that it’s מן השמים that the news came to us, in order to warn us. Whatever happens to anybody should not be repeated by us. It says in the possuk the following: ככלב שב אל קיאו – “Just like a dog returns to what he vomited out,” כן כסיל שב באולתו – “so is a fool who repeats his foolishness” (Mishlei 26:11). It means this: A dog ate something in the street. He shouldn’t have eaten it but he did. And after he ate it, he saw that he couldn’t keep it down. So he gave it forth again. Now, that dog should have understood that it’s not for him. But because he’s a foolish dog, so he goes back and he eats it again. Now, I don’t even believe such a dog exists. But humans like that do exist. If some misfortune happened because of your carelessness, it should have been a lesson, and you should never forget it. But even smarter than that, is a man who doesn’t wait that it should happen to him. If it happens to somebody else, that’s enough of a lesson for the wise person. He learns from others, from other people’s misfortunes. And that’s the great wisdom of experience – that you don’t wait for it to happen on your own hide, but you make sure to learn from other people’s misfortunes.

And that’s a very important principle. Whatever news you get, whatever you hear – and you’re hearing all the time – it should enter your ears. Somebody crossing the street was hit by a car. A child drowned in a pool. A grandchild was visiting his grandparents and he fell out of the window because there were no safety guards. When you hear these things, it should enter your heart like an arrow. And make it a principle, “I’m going to watch out for that thing.”
TAPE # 405