Saturday, July 9, 2016

What Happened to On Ben Pelet? How to be a positive influence on people

Dear Friends,

Below is a written version of a drasha (speech) I gave this past Shabbat.

Have a good week,

Yaakov

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Korech, we started off with a listing of those who were involved in the rebellion of Korech against Moshe Rabbenu. One man listed is On ben Pelet. But later on On disappears from the scene. What happened to On?

The Gemara (Talmud) in Sanhedrin (109b) explains that On’s wife saved him from sharing the same fate of Korach. He had initially joined the rebellion but his wife convinced him that it was a foolish thing to do and helped him extricate himself from the rebellion. By doing this, she saved his life and that of his family as well.

On ben Pelet’s wife was a good influence on him. The Gemara in Sanhedrin also discusses a wife who was a bad influence, and that was the wife of Korach. She instigated him to rebel and goaded him on.

We often think, “Who am I that I can influence others?” But this is misguided humility. Hashem gives us tremendous power to not only change our own lives, but to change the lives of those around us as well.

Parshat Korach showcases the influence we can have on each other. In the case of On ben Pelet’s wife, through our influence we can save someone’s life, or in the case of Korach’s wife, the opposite can occur, God forbid.

What are some ways we can be a bad influence on people? When we are naysayers and throw cold water on people’s hopes and dreams. When we are a bad role model or hyper-critical of others.

How can we be a good influence on people? First we must see the amazing potential and goodness within everyone. When we genuinely like and care about people, they will be more open to being influenced by us. We influence people by sharing with them inspirational articles we’ve read or classes we attend. We also have a positive impact on people by teaching by example and by encouraging and complimenting them.

Another way to influence others is to do what On ben Pelet’s wife did and give advice when appropriate. If you know someone who’s struggling with a life challenge or you see them heading down the wrong path, if you think you can help them, don’t hold back!

Ask them if they are interested in your advice and if they are, share your thoughts with them.

For our own challenges, what do we do if we don’t have a spouse like the wife of On ben Pelet?

We must seek out wise people to consult with and get their advice and encouragement.

A common mistake people make is to make big decisions or try to handle difficult challenges on their own, without consulting with others who have wisdom and life experience, such as rabbis, rebbetzins and other mentors.

Until now, I’ve focused on being a good influence on others. But we must also be a good influence on ourselves. If we frequently berate and scold ourselves, if we call ourselves terrible names and say how hopeless we are, is that going to motivate us to improve?

We must be our biggest fan!!

We must spur ourselves on to overcome the challenges we face.

I want to end with some powerful questions we can ask ourselves:
Which do I do more, criticize others or compliment them?

Am I focused only on myself and my family, or do I take an interest in others and give them encouragement?

When I talk to myself, am I nasty and hyper-critical, or am I loving and encouraging?

Don’t let a day go by without encouraging and complimenting yourself and others. Then, B’ezrat Hashem (with God's help), we will all reach great heights.

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