Friday, October 11, 2013

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

In memory of HaRav Ovadia Yosef, ztz'l. While he made occasional inflammatory remarks (sometimes misquoted sometimes flat-out wrong), he was undeniably an historic figure, a meteoric scholar, a transcendent and yet utterly compassionate Jewish leader. To give you a small idea of his enormous impact, one in seven Israelis, including untold thousands of secular Jews, attended his funeral on Monday (and I assume that most of the others who couldn't possibly fit into the streets of Jerusalem listened to it on the radio).

Dedicated to Mom in honor of her birthday - Happy Birthday, Mom!

In response to last week's post, at least one reader actually wondered, "Is that really what Judaism says, or his he making that up?"

I assure you, Dear Reader, I don't make this stuff up.

Like the story I'm about to tell you. It's a true story, believe it or not.

But first, a question:

Who is greater: one who never sins, or one who does wrong but then comes clean?

Here's the story:

Dan is a guy who lives in a pretty average American town.

He's employed. He has money. He is not having trouble making ends meet.

Let me mention as well that he's a married man, with children.

He gives to his local Jewish Federation. People know him.

So the other day he's shopping at a Whole Foods Market. He walks past the bulk sugar cookie bin and feels a wormhole  opening up, transporting him back in time.

Suddenly Dan is a teenager again. He feels an uncontrollable urge to do something risky. To do something illicit. To do something wild.

He snatches and stuffs not one but two cookies into his mouth.

These are not free samples.

For the next sixty seconds, Dan's mouth is so full that he can't even speak when greeted by one of the staff.

Can you picture this?

Not exactly your poster-child for human greatness, is it?

So the next day, Dan calls me to tell me about it. He's not proud. He is very matter-of-fact: "I knew what I was doing was wrong, I was just a kid again."

And the day after that, Dan is back in the store, insisting that the manager accept payment for the two cookies and apologizing.

True story.

Now I ask you again:

Who is greater: someone who would never stoop so low? Or someone like Dan, who does stoop low, but then comes clean, rights the wrong and apologizes?

As I told Dan, there ain't no one who never sinned, but the world is full of people who cannot - will not - own up to their wrongs.

Because they're more worried about looking good than being good.

Think about it.

(And there are also those who worry more about money than either looking good or being good. Oy.)

All right, one last question for you table:  
If you were the store manager, how would you respond to the apology? What if you caught someone like that with his hand in the cookie jar?

Shabbat Shalom

PS - A few weeks ago I sent out the following quote. Please forgive me for resending it:

"Apology is a lovely perfume - it can transform the clumsiest moment into the most gracious gift." - Margaret Runbeck

PPS - Want to make your Table Talk rabbi happy? Like it, tweet it, or just forward it to someone who might enjoy it.

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