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Elul 17

A pot belonging to two partners is neither hot nor cold (Eruvin 3a).

If two people who partly own a pot of food disagree - one prefers it hot, and the other prefers it cold - the compromise of "lukewarm" displeases both.

One of the most frequent maladjustments in life comes as a result of trying to please everyone. Invariably, other people have conflicting opinions, so that if one satisfies A, one displeases B, and vice versa. Yet some people consistently try to accomplish this feat, and the result is nothing but frustration, since the compromise not only comes at great personal cost, but satisfies no one.

The desire to please everyone often stems from a lack of confidence in one's own convictions. If I know what I want and believe it to be right, I will pursue my path. While I know full well that some people may disagree with me, I must accept it as inevitable; if others are displeased because I do not defer to their wishes, that is their problem, not mine.

It is true that responsible people have the obligation to consider conflicting opinions and avail themselves of competent guidance, and that flexibility and compromise do have their place (it is appropriate to rethink one's position on controversial issues and not be obstinate in maintaining one's position, no matter what). Still, people cannot satisfy everyone while maintaining their own integrity.

Today I shall...

try to think through what it is that I really want and not try to satisfy everyone.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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