Inflexible: A True Story

Where are you needlessly inflexibile?

Comments (18)

(18) elisabeth, June 11, 2009 12:01 AM

Very grateful !

I soooooooo wholeheartedly agree. Inflexibility leads so frequently to fanaticism and the latter, in turn to bigotry, hatred, tragedies...

(17) Anonymous, June 10, 2009 7:48 AM

Can 't think of my own example....

I enjoyed your blog very much. Right now I can't think of my own example. But I remember asking a neighbor whether she wanted to go to a shiur on a Wednesday. She automatically said, "I clean my house on Wednesday." Luckily, she reconsidered, came to shiur, enjoyed it and saw many women she knew. Some people have "schedules" that they hate to change.

(16) Sue, June 9, 2009 10:17 PM


Talk about inflexible. I had to deal a few years ago with the German government for my mother's pension. Extremely inflexible. Israelis now there's a flexible innovative people.

(15) Pinchas, June 9, 2009 8:45 PM

Use our home?

Recently, we heard guest were coming in from out of town and needed a place to stay for Yom Tov. We had panned on going away and had a major chesed opportuniy at hand. My wife and I looked at each other in doubt. "Let someone use our home, our bed, does that surpass our comfort limit?" We debated and called my Rabbi, saying that for our marriage sake, we must get over our complex, and give it over. We let them use it and felt very good about it. In fact, how could we of decided otherwise? My outstanding question was why did the Rabbi say "for your marriage sake?" I think this was because marriage can't become beautiful with selfishness. Our comforts sometimes can be the biggest obstacle in marriage. We are in exile, in as much as we should never feel comfortable where we presently are, we should never feel comfortable in our ways.

(14) Aaron, June 9, 2009 3:07 PM

Although I agree there are times its necessarily to be flexible. Though I will play devils advocate. The Rav used an example of lighting shabbos candles. I am an Orthodox Jew, but what if a secular Jew said, "come to the movies with us on saturday, be flexible". We have times when we need to put our foot down too, though within reason of course.

(13) Anonymous, June 9, 2009 1:07 PM

Reward children with day off from school

When our boys were growing up, every once in awhile we would give them a day off -- just because. Today, they are lovely, responsible people with good jobs. We all need a little break now and then -- children, too.

(12) Devorah, June 9, 2009 11:52 AM

Two different situations

As I see it, your experience at the airport in Poland seems a lot more like you were...DUPED!!! There, I said it!I mean, did you see a long line of similarly accused co-passengers who were all stuck shelling out $$ for paper tickets? I think, knowing the corrupt nature the bureaucracies of certain countries, that a clever airport rep could have been ripping you off, and he may have been just as happy to accept a "personal gift" (bakshish) of, say 500 zlotys and sent you on your way! Well, if you paid in cash that would be especially likely, and if you paid by credit card, you would be well-advised to save yourself the headache of small claims against an airline and just have Visa or Amex cancel your charges as a dispute. It is very easy and usually goes in your favor. As for the guy at small claims - he may have felt just as silly himself, as he seemed to you, but I think he was stuck having to carry out the rules of the system, and you know he didn't make 'em up, nor can he take it into his own hands to change them just for you. It's annoying, but there you have to play along. Maybe you could have gone out to a nearby PO or bank, get a M.O. and come back to the guy, and he would have then been ok with "pretending" he got it by mail. Flexibility in my own life? Well, I must say that realizing the inadvisability of an automatic "no" response to everything a kid asks, can pay off, in that they will consider a more well-chosen and infrequent "no" as the real thing and to be respected.

(11) Rina, June 9, 2009 11:36 AM

There is a way

When lower-level employees are being "inflexible", it could be that they are either not in the mood to be accommodating, or they really don't have the authority. In such cases, ask to speak to the manager. If it was just a mood thing, that will quickly alter their attitude, because they don't want their manager to hear your complaint. If they just don't have the authority, the manager might. This has worked for me and others many times. Good luck with this claim.

(10) Jacqueline Mamoni, June 9, 2009 11:20 AM

Abusiver gov'ment...

What else is new

(9) Lynn, June 8, 2009 2:37 PM


My now-fiance began insisting that I take time off in May for us to do something together, "just us". I resisted, because I had taken so much time off that month already with other family commitments. He wore me down and we went to a local radio station to watch our favorite morning show do their thing. At the end, my fiance turns to me, gets on one knee, and proposes! It was lovely, romantic, and unique, and we have a digital audio copy of his proposal to enjoy for the rest of our lives. Relax, good things DO come when you do!

(8) Rox, June 8, 2009 12:35 PM

Service field rules

I work in retail. The few times when I, along with my coworkers, bend the rules, especially when it involves high price items, we know we are taking our jobs into our own hands...upper management will either complain that what we did was a huge loss of money, or they will get a complaint from the customer that their service was bad. You said it was a big deal for you to take off from's also a big deal to bend the rules constantly to please customers when it is clearly not in your authority. And then, if I lose my job because of a transaction that management didn't like, is it not my *own* fault that I lost parnassah because of a questionable transaction?? That said, R', it is an annoying run around nowadays to get what you need done. I'll be thinking of you and your upcoming court date, and I hope it all goes well for you. Please let us know how it turns out...ASAP! :o)

(7) Phil, June 7, 2009 11:57 PM

Flexible like a reed

I like how the Talmud says we should be as flexible as a reed. Now, a reed is fixed into the ground, it does not say "be as flexible as a reed on rollerskates." (smirk)

(6) Nouriel, June 7, 2009 6:13 PM

I understand your point Rabbi Solomon, but it doesn't seem like you should reward children with days off from school. Rather, if your child makes such a request, granted that you shouldn't just write it off as impractical, but rather discuss with your child why he needs the day off or the like and try to understand and accomodate him. But you shouldn't just give it to him, even if he is a good child.

(5) Rosen, June 7, 2009 5:54 PM

serving with open-mindedness

Since I have a job relating to customer service at the park, sometimes I can be flexible with how long the carousel can remind open and whether riders can either ride on the carousel again if there is no line or if they really have to get back in the line. All in all, I have been quite well-respected with what I do at this park. In fact, I even go out of my way with some other customer service aspects such as returning misplaced items to their rightful owners. If only some banks were more flexible when it comes to exchanging or breaking down money where you don't need to have an account in order to get service...Also, health insurance and health care ought to be a lot more flexible where they do not deny coverage to any pre-existing conditions - in more universalized health care systems, it would be against the law to deny coverage or care, as well as to profit from administering someone's health. So, if only health plans would scrap their underwriter programs that make the decision to likely deny coverage - very flawed bureaucracy that would essentially render insurance as essentially useless. Even with insurance, one may be paying excessive fees and copays where they would otherwise get under universal health care for almost nothing. Customer service can either make or break your day. It all depends on the length of any given bureaucracy.

(4) Sara, June 7, 2009 4:09 PM

your travel agent didn't know that- or help you?

Even if you bought yourself on line- go to that website and get help? good luck!

(3) Alan S., June 7, 2009 12:51 PM

Rules are made to be broken...sometimes.

When you deal with a bureaucrazy (purposely misspelled), you wind up dealing with either inflexible people -- because they have no choice -- or dealing with inflexible rules, because sometimes rules are necessary for the overall healthful functioning of society. That said, like some laws on the books, there are just some rules that are stupid or ill conceived, and just can't be changed or broken. Seems the Rabbi 'stepped into' one of those situations where some flexibility should be established by the bureacrazy, and not by the people that are only doing their job. Everyone has come up against situations, 'walls' if you will, that flexibility just won't overcome, no matter how inane the situation is.

(2) ross, June 7, 2009 8:17 AM

Rules are rules!

Sounds like a script for a comedy movie. Don't keep us in suspense! Report to us after your court date! (And not a day later.)

(1) mottik, June 7, 2009 7:39 AM

flexibility means giving of yourself,humbling yourself to the other person,easy to imagine -- hard to do!


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