Shabbat Shalom: Indecision or Consequences

Jan 19, 2023

By: Bethany Friedlander
PJ Library Manager

I mentioned to a friend that I really should reconnect with someone who I haven’t seen for a long time. This very decisive friend didn’t understand what I was doing standing there telling her this. Instead, she said, “So do it.” Make a decision and give her a call. Would there be consequences? Maybe she wouldn’t be interested in reconnecting, but maybe she would be thrilled to hear from an old friend (and the latter did end up being the reality).

Many choices we make have consequences. Our family watched Along Came Polly this weekend. A quick recap: Reuben, played by Ben Stiller, was all brain when it came to decision-making – facts and figures, spreadsheets and numbers. Polly, played by Jennifer Aniston, was all heart – it feels right so let’s do it. Both characters may have been weighing consequences but in very different ways. It was only when they both let go a bit of their decision-making process that they lived a bit more for the journey and a little less in fear of the consequences.

Parsha Va-eira is all about consequences. Moses and Aaron come to Pharaoh saying, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh is unconvinced as to the reasons to let the Israelites go and imposes harsher labor upon them. It takes 10 plagues to finally convince Pharoah that the consequences of not letting them go are far too great. Even after Pharaoh releases them, he changes his mind and chases after them, having much of his army washed away in the chase.

Making choices as an individual is tough. Add on that part of helping your children make their own choices, and it starts to feel like you are drowning in the Red Sea. Add on a teenager, and it’s as if you are being chased by all of Pharaoh’s army. Add an aging parent and you’ve got the Angel of Decision-Making swirling around you.

I sometimes feel bad for Pharaoh. G-d purposely hardened his heart so that he would not let the Israelites go. Pharoah was indecisive as well. Go. Stay. Go but then I’m going to pursue you. How much choice did Pharaoh really have in the matter? Could he have really stood up and said, “Give me a break here. I don’t need any more of these plagues. Let them get out of here. Take my heart with you so I don’t have to use it.”

Was the choice worth the consequence? You will get to be a good cheerleader for your team for a while. You will heal. You will play again. You will make new choices with a different set of consequences.

I’m glad that I’m not Pharoah. I am proud to say that I make decisions because I can, knowing that there may be consequences. I believe there is far more to gain from saying “Let’s do this” than waiting for nothing to happen.

Revisiting Reuben and Polly and their scuba diving friend – “Be like the hippo” – Be proud of the decisions that you can make and stand strong through the consequences. Injuries heal, and scars are a great way to start new conversations and exciting new chapters in life.

Shabbat Shalom, Colorado. 

Please email Bethany Friedlander at bfriedlander@jewishcolorado.org with comments or questions.