In this week’s parsha we talk about the importance of learning from all those around us.

A businessman is riding the train when an individual dressed in what seemed like traditional Chassidic garb sits down next to him.

Observing his seatmate, the businessman blurts out: “Sir, honestly, we live in a modern world – why do you insist on dressing in such an old-fashioned way? Times are different…what’s the point?”

“With all due respect – I’m Amish,” responds the man.

“Really?” exclaims the businessman. “My humble apologies – I must say, I find the Amish very inspiring. I’m truly impressed at how they have preserved their tradition for so long…”

Ironically, although we pride ourselves on being fair-minded individuals, sometimes our “open-mindedness” is hardly open at all. Our life experiences and relationships often reveal that we are only really as impartial as we choose to be.

Living in a free country, and in a society built upon respect, the notion of being genuinely open-minded is so important.

As the Talmud says, “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.” In fact, the Talmud even derives seven positive traits from a thief, to name but one: if you fail the first time – try again! Indeed, everyone has something that we can learn from.

Let’s truly open our hearts and minds to the world around us – to the people we meet and the experiences we encounter – after all, a sign of life is growth!