Wednesday, October 20th 2021   |

Off the Pulpit: The Gift of Growth

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

One of the unfortunate aspects of current culture is that the antagonisms are counterproductive: insulting someone makes them less susceptible to change. Who would wish to join the side that has vilified them? The ratcheting up of rhetoric makes others less likely to have a change of heart and make common cause with a side that was so unkind to them.

This is partly a symptom of a tragic view of human beings — that they cannot or will not change. When someone apologizes, the instant response is to distrust its sincerity. When a person does change a position or outlook, we tend to ask — well, what is in it for him?

Judaism is premised on the idea that people can change and do change. It sometimes seems unexpected, even incongruous, but as Buckminster Fuller said, “There’s nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”

Growing up, I never thought I would be a Rabbi. I never thought I would be a vegetarian. I never thought I would live on the West Coast. I could go on and on. We pigeonhole people at our own peril. Give yourself and others the space to change and the gift of growth.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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