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January 30, 1987 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


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very time the Al-
mighty inflicted one of
the ten plagues upon
the Pharaoh's people, the ruler
summoned Moses to appear be-
fore him and relented, grant-
ing permission for the people to
depart. But always after the
plague had ceased and time
had elapsed, "Pharoah hard-
ened his heart" and refused to
allow them to leave as he had
promised. In consequence, the
Almighty heaps upon Pharaoh
plague after plague, until fi-
nally, in desperation, the hap-
less monarch set the slaves
"Pharaoh hardened his
heart" means that Pharaoh
underwent a change of mind
and attitude. Among his many
faults, this was one of the most
serious shortcomings of his
character. Pharaoh has gone
down in history as a weak and
ineffectual ruler, inconsistent
and vacillating, himself a slave
to expedience.
Vacillation is a human
frailty to which every one of us
is addicted. A vacillating indi-
vidual is soft, spineless and
unprincipled. Joseph Addison
once observed, "Nothing can
make a man so contemptible in
the eyes of the world as incon-
sistency." When we succumb to
this revalent frailty, we are, or
seem to be, opportunistic, cow-
ardly, even dishonest.
There was a gentleman I
once knew who had this unfor-
tunate failing. I could never
know whether or not he would
later change his mind. He was
gentle, good and kind, but
when he made an appoint-
ment, I could never be sure
whether to expect him or not.
When he assumed a position of
leadership or pledged his sup-
port to a philanthropic cause,
assuring me and others of his
presence, counsel and guid-
ance, we could never be certain
that he would honor his word.
The Talmud gives us sound ad-
vice about changing our minds:
"Let thy yea be yea; and thy
nay be nay."

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52 Friday, January 30, 1987


Avoiding The Extremes
Of 'Yea' And 'Nay'


But like all other virtues,
this quality must be observed
in a proper and appropriate
measure, for when carried to
an excess, it can be destructive
and injurious. For life is not
simple and there are times
when we should and must
change our minds. To be
rigidly consistent, unmoved
and unmoving, come what
may, can on occasion be a
source of evil and pain. We are
therefore bound to differ-
entiate between consistency
and sheer stubbornness. Some
people, once they make up
their minds, cannot be moved,
no matter how circumstances
alter. They will not bend or

Irwin Groner is rabbi at Cong.
Shaarey Zedek.

yield, even though they may
have arrived at an improper
decision. An akshan is the pic-
turesque word describing a
person who has made up his
mind, so that neither storm nor
earthquake can shake him
from his position.
In professing our religion,
we should keep our minds open
to fresh understanding and the
possibility of intellectual
growth. Perhaps in earlier
years, we failed to grasp that
there is depth and significance
in religious belief. Perhaps,
when we were younger, we
were persuaded that Judaism
is archaic, that prayer is a
superstitious practice for the
simple-minded, and that ob-
servance is reserved for the
very young or the uninformed.
But when we become older
and more mature in our think-
ing, we begin to perceive that
we are not so self-sufficient as


Shabbat Va'era:
Exodus 6:2-9:35,
Isaiah 66:1-24

we once thought we were. We
do not possess all the answers
to the mysterious and awe-
inspiring aspects of life. We
begin to search for the warmth
of religion, the strength that
only faith and commitment can
bring. Why not change our
minds and seek enlightenment
on these matters?
The dimension of time gives
us opportunity to change our
outlook about relationships.
Do we have the same judge-
ment today about the people
that we know that we did years
ago? I have seen how, in some
families, a son-in-law, or
daughter-in-law enters the
family and is originally viewed
with covert criticism, with un-
spoken but real disapproval.
And yet - with the passage of
time, I have also noted how
parents come to understand
and respect the depth of devo-
tion that has blessed the mar-
riage of their child, and the fine
qualities of the individual who
was not originally fully wel-
comed into the family unit.
This illustrates the maturing
of judgement as a consequence
of time and experience.
It would be tragic if, for the
sake of a rigid and unyielding
consistency, we would resist all
change. In the realm of the
spiritual, the religious and the
moral, we should be growing
and developing. We should as-
pire to greater levels of under-
standing, sensitivity and faith.

March of Dimes
Honors Robinson

Jack Robinson, chairman ,(
and chief executive officer of
Perry Drug Stores, will be
among the honorees at the
March of Dimes' annual
Sweetheart Ball Feb. 14 at the
Westin Hotel.

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