The Snake That Appeals To Your Gut

Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal

This week’s Torah portion, Bereishit, tells about G-d creating the world.

In the story, G-d places Adam and Eve in the Garden of the Eden and tells them not to eat from The Tree of Knowledge, lest they die.

But the serpent goaded Eve to eat from it anyway, and as we all know, here’s what happened (Genesis 3:6):

And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, and she took of its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Eve (and Adam) listened to the serpent who appealed to their gut literally that the tree was good for food, delightful to look at, and would make them wise, so why think too much about it and G-d’s warning to them—and so they just ate it!

This is not just a story, but a true lesson. We should not just think with our gut feelings and intuition and do what we want, but rather carefully evaluate our actions first, to make sure we are doing the right thing.

What I find is that some people regularly “trust their gut” over data.

They say:

I know this is right because my gut is telling me.

The truth is, following one’s gut feelings alone is a way to avoid confronting or dealing with real data about what’s going on.  While it’s true that information can be tough to get as well as to interpret, we certainly have to look not only at people’s words, but also at their deeds.  We have to see them over an extended period of time, so we see whether there is consistency and if their integrity holds up under different situations and stressors.

People can use cheap words to “say the right thing” or force themselves to act a certain way, but that may not represent who they really are inside when they let their guard and facade down.

When you allow others’ smooth facade to influence your better judgment, you run the risk of living in an echo chamber, only hearing what you want to hear. That leaves you not a good judge of anything.

We can tell ourselves stories, discount the negatives or the suspicions we may have, and basically come up with a biased answer—the one we are looking to tell ourselves.

We have hearts and minds and we need to make sure we are using both in making important decisions.  Otherwise, see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil—and what do you think you are precisely going to get?

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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