Finding the Good in Unexpected Places

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7 Responses

  1. The Contarian says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein

    Who is wise He who learns from every blogger. Pirkei Derav Huffington.

    I learned frmm your post that the actress was not Jewish(ly Observant), Otherwise you would have been guily of “bearing tales amomg your people”. Five Books of Moses. Since I judge everyman favorably – also in Pirkei Avos I had to came to the above conclusion about the actress

  2. Ahron says:

    God bless Marion Pritchard. (Definitely the best argument I’ve ever heard in support of women’s gun ownership…)

    >>“Will Smith was the main honoree. Hollywood icons can be superficial and arrogant. Will was neither. He was genuinely self-deprecating, stating from the get-go that he is not given to deep, complex thought, but will lavish attention to the simple.”

    :-] By far my favorite part of the article. Perhaps Mr. Smith shouldn’t be so self-deprecating on that point. What he calls “simple” thought might be just as well described as “penetrating”.

    It would be depressing to recount the battalions of “complex” and sophisticated academics who can’t find their way around a kitchen table or a moral discussion. Many self-appreciative intellectuals revel in their inability to decide whether it’s morally superior, given the scenario, to save a dog or a human being from a fire….or for that matter whether blowing Jewish (or any) children into little pieces is really morally “wrong” after all.

    Smith’s “simple” reaction to the moral choices that confront every human being may just as well be driven by a decisive recognition that benefiting other human beings around us is the necessary path to self-attainment — the only means by which we emerge better from the world.

    That is a priceless, almost piercing, clarity (“simplicity”?) about the reality of the human condition — and certainly more valuable than the sophistication of modern academia; which would be more productively devoted to plumbing repair than “thought”.

    >>“Captain “Sully” Sullenberger…argued that Americans in January needed something to feel good about, needed to celebrate goodness. He was happy that he played a role in giving them a chance to do so.”

    The more I read and hear about Capt. Sullenberger the more I realize that his technical skill was a reflection of the grace and artistry lying within a man whose character is revealed as more and more impressive with each new bit of knowledge about him.

  3. zalman says:

    Listen carefully, and you may learn that many people, the famous and the ordinary, are good people.

  4. Nathan Elberg says:

    I learned from my teacher Ira Robinson that when a pasuk is quoted by Chazal, there’s an assumption that you know the context. If you don’t, it’s worthwhile looking it up. In the Mishna you start with in Avot, the psalm that’s quoted says “From all my teachers I gained understanding, for Your testimonies are my conversation. From the wise elders I gain understanding, for I kept Your precepts.” Learning from everyone takes place in the context of those who discuss God’s testimonies, who keep His precepts. It seems to me that the heroes (including Will Smith, his grandmother, and Capt. Sullenberger) can be included in that category, but it also comes to exclude many, many people. It’s too easy to learn falsehood, and that’s not what the Mishna in Avot is contemplating.

  5. One Christian's perspective says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein thank you for such a beautiful article and teaching. I have learned that it is OK to discern what is good and what is evil as God would see it from his words. In my humaness, I fear that I often cross the line from discernment to judgment which solely belongs to God.
    Yet, you have graciously shared the journey of discernment with words that are God honoring. Another recent example of not judging outward appearances has been the You-Tube explosion of a gifted middle aged singer from Scotland who brought a cynical audience and handful of judges to their feet in admiration and sorrow at their behavior. These are truly examples of God’s work in our world today drawing us to himself and gently showing us our cracks and flaws. I never cease to be amazed by his love.

  6. Raymond says:

    On an admittedly much smaller and insignificant scale, I had an experience at work that reminds me of these stories of heroism done by genuinely fine human beings.

    Finding goodness at my work is not exactly easy to do. One day, I said to one of my nicer co-workers, “Why can’t everybody be like you?” At first puzzled by my question, she kind of threw up her hands and replied, “I don’t know, how should I know? Maybe because then you might not appreciate me as much?”

    The heroes described above, are absolutely extraordinary. I have enough experience in life, to know that most people live their lives only thinking about their own goodness and the defects of others. At least, though, when I do come across such angels disguised as humans, I can appreciate their specialness that much more. Human beings as a whole may not be exactly admirable, but once in a while there are some magnificent individuals.

  7. Out of town charedi says:

    Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein for a great article. Simplicity and spirituality so wonderfully intertwined.

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