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The continuous dilemma: When to hold our ground and when to compromise?

The continuous dilemma: When to hold our ground and when to compromise?

Thursday, 27 July, 2017 - 5:34 pm

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The continuous dilemma: When to hold our ground and when to compromise?

A Rabbi was at the end of his rope. With declining Synagogue membership and finances he was feeling very vulnerable when an eccentric old man enters with his dog and the dog is wearing a Yarmulka. “Rabbi, I want you to Bar Mitzvah my dog” he says. The Rabbi is indignant “Don’t insult the Jewish religion don’t insult our Synagogue!” he says. The man responds “The dog is all I have and I’m getting old. I was planning on announcing that I was leaving my entire estate to the Synagogue at the Bar Mitzvah..”. The Rabbi thinks quickly “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize your dog was Jewish. We could definitely do a Bar Mitzvah for him!”

In this week’s Torah portion the tribes of Israel are called Matos – Hard dry branches. Elsewhere they are called Shvotim the flexible branches that are still attached to the tree. The general message is that we are all branches of the same tree, but more specifically these two names represent the different postures we must adopt, depending on the situation we find ourselves.

Sometimes when we are feeling vulnerable, cut off from our roots, we need to call upon our strength and resilience, not to bend in the face of adversity. On the other hand, when we are coming from a position of comfort, still attached to the tree, with shared respect and values, we are in a position to compromise and be flexible in order to help those around us.

So with all jokes aside, the Rabbi, seeing that the old man had no intention to be disrespectful, could find a way to “Bar Mitzvah” the dog.

When we feel intolerant of others we need to ask ourselves where this is coming from. Are we feeling vulnerable or are we threatened in some way? Are we somehow misreading another person? On the other hand we need to know that flexibility and compromise really come from a position of strength.

 

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