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Walking Tall

Posted by Rabbi Ron Symons on October 13, 2015

We all know people, we might have even done it ourselves…. There are times in our lives when we stand tall, above all the rest, because we know that we must.  Maybe it was easier to do way back when on the playground, “That’s not fair!” we might have yelled.  It took a little more courage to do in the high school locker room, on campus on the job…  We stand tall when we know that something around us is wrong and we must act with righteousness in mind.

I recently caught an episode or two of “What Would You Do?” on ABC.  It is the show that uses actors to evoke moral reactions from every day people witnessing morally absurd scenarios.  There was the blind man (actor) who asked a fellow shopper (actor) to count his money.  The shopper switched a $20 bill for a $1 bill.  And wouldn’t you know it, real people stood tall and called him out on it.  There was the homeless man (actor) who was taunted by teens (actors) to beg like a dog for his money.  And people stood tall.  There was the very pregnant woman (actress) getting herself drunk and bystanders stood tall.

Noah of the Bible stood tall.  From the moment he understood the fate of the world through water, he started building.  Yes, he had his shortcomings.  Along with the animals, he only took his family and no one else on the ark.  Can you imagine the other righteous people who clamored to get in?  After the waters receded, he got ‘stupid drunk’.  No one is perfect.  Not Noah.  Not any one of us.  But each of us can try to stand tall.

Over 2,000 years ago, a poet wrote,

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:13).

Rabbi Tanhuma bar Abba was puzzled when he read this passage.  Of all things, why liken the righteous to palm trees?  You see, the palm stands taller than all the other trees in the grove…. just like the righteous – they stand tall above others.  And then again, if you ever watch a palm tree bending in the wind, you know that it is flexible.  So it should be with righteous people, they need to be as flexible as possible, knowing when to push and when to pull, when to speak out and when to keep silent.  (Adapted from Midrash Tanhuma, Lekh lekha, #5)

So give it a shot: Stand tall like a palm tree.  Be righteous.  Know when to bend.  Know when to speak.

Have a great week.  (You can read more about Noah in Genesis 6:9 – 11:32)

(Image originally found on Living the Dream-16 Photos Of The World’s Tallest Palm Trees)


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