Monday, September 24, 2012

The Good and The Right

On a talk show interview, Jane Lynch (of "Glee") said, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be good?" 

In my local paper, an article was printed that detailed the lengths a principal went to preserve the feelings of a young student. The next week, a man wrote in, saying that story struck him so deeply that he decided to halt divorce proceedings. For the sake of his children, he said, he can stop arguing with his wife.

Luke went to a shiur that cited the Talmud tale of Reb Eliezer, who was able to invoke the natural world around him to prove the truth of his position. Water flowed against the current, trees uprooted themselves, walls fell down, a divine voice rang out from Heaven, and the other rabbanim were unmoved, since, they said, "After the majority one must incline." 

The shiur-giver said that the purpose of these nissim was not to be validations of Reb Eliezer's position, but rather to invoke understanding from those who would not see his viewpoint. Then they said, "Yes, we see where he is coming from, but that is not the issue; a majority has ruled." 

It wasn't important that he was right. It was they should have the consideration to comprehend his standpoint.

Being "right" often means belittling others; but we, as a people, are willing to let big matters stand aside for the sake of being good. Aharon, brother of Moshe, would lie through his teeth to bring peace between people. And that was okay.

In the 2008 film "Flash of Genius," the main character, Bob Kearns, becomes so absorbed that the credit for his invention was unjustly taken from him that he eventually alienates his wife and his children. 

Nothing should be more important than one's family, to whom one owes all their "goodness." Yes, he was cheated. Yes, it was wrong. But was it worth the price to make things "right"? 

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