Off the Pulpit: Do People Change?

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Wolpe_edtRecently an experiment involving almost 20,000 people showed that we consistently acknowledge that we have changed in the past but underestimate how much we will change in the future. The music the subjects thought they would love forever changed, and sometimes their taste in food as well as ingrained habits and ideas. We believe we will be the same tomorrow as today, but actually we change a good deal.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that the only person who understood him was his tailor, since his tailor measured him anew each time they met. If we are wise, we will reserve judgment on others as well as ourselves.

Repentance, “teshuva” is a promise of the possibility of change. It is easy to have settled ideas about who we are and to be equally settled about the character of others. But there is wisdom in that marvelous movie, the Philadelphia story, when Katherine Hepburn declares passionately, “the time to make up your mind about people is never.”

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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