I’d Never Do That!

Are you really sure?

Progressive Extremists mocked former Vice President Pence in 2017 when an earlier interview that he had given in 2002 resurfaced. They howled in derision about his commitment to avoid all secluded meetings with women other than his wife. The New York Times even commissioned a poll intended to reveal how out of touch the vice president was with the country and its contemporary norms. To the astonishment of the ‘paper of record’, the poll revealed that a majority of women, and nearly half of men, said it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse. So much for being out of touch. But give the New York Times some credit for publishing their polling results even though the results were neither what they expected nor what they wanted.

The point is that apparently about half of all Americans know that it is a lot easier to avoid situations that could go horribly wrong than it is to allow oneself entry into those potentially intimate situations and then hope that one’s morals and self-discipline are up to the task.

The same is true for money. A friend of mine was handed exclusive control over the considerable cash that came through the door of the start-up he had recently joined. He was tasked with counting it, entering it in the books, and depositing it in the bank each day. Within a few days he sought a meeting with the head of the company and this is what he said. “I hope never to find out if I can really be trusted with very large quantities of untraceable cash, but I do know that I can be trusted to set up the correct practices for handling cash. From today, three separate people will be involved. From receipt to counting and booking and banking, no one person will have exclusive control over any part of the process. Dual controls will be established and maintained.”

Don’t spend too much time deliberating on whether or not you could withstand temptation. Rather invest effort in avoiding the circumstances in which you might fail. After all, that is what the strongest man in the world did.

Let’s take a look:

Then Samson went down with his father and his mother to Timnah, and they came [up] to the vineyards of Timnah and a young lion roared against him. And the spirit of the Lord gripped him and he tore it as one might tear a goat and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
(Judges 14:5-6)

I am certain that you spotted the problem immediately. Samson and his parents were traveling to Timnah to make his upcoming marriage arrangements. So, why tell us that Samson didn’t tell his parents about the lion? He didn’t have to tell them; they were right there along with him and they saw it, surely?

Ancient Jewish wisdom, as usual, solves the problem. Glancing back at Judges 13:5 we are reminded that Samson was dedicated as a nazirite [NaZiR in Hebrew] from birth.

Furthermore, we know (as did Samson of course) that a nazirite may not drink wine.
In fact, he may not even eat grapes.
(Numbers 6:3)

When Samson and his parents arrived at the vineyards of Timnah, which were on the route to Timnah and the residence of the young woman, his parents continued on through the vineyards, the shortest route. However, Samson took the long route around the vineyards in order to be sure that there was no way he might be overcome by thirst during the heat of the day and inadvertently pluck a few juicy grapes to enjoy. Rather than weigh up the likelihood of him forgetting the obligations of a nazirite while walking through the vineyards, he avoided the circumstances in which he might have failed.

Whether in our family matters or in our financial matters, Samson’s way is best. There’s a well-known saying attributed to Rabbi Hillel who lived about two thousand years ago: “Trust not in yourself until the day of your death.” Even the very best of us are susceptible to temptation, so it’s best not to become complacent about it. Instead, we would be wise to follow Samson and assiduously avoid the circumstances in which we might be tempted.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Thought Tools article.
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