People are not perfect. People do foolish things.

Both these pithy statements are true, oh so true. But we should strive to aim for near-perfection, at least part of the time. And we should strive to do wise things, not foolish things. The Torah offers us a number of people, patriarchs and matriarchs and their families and servants, and prophets and monarchs; not one of them is perfect, but many of them try to do a lot of good. They do foolish things as well, but they atone for them.



I write this and think of a man I will call J. J is someone I knew a bit while we both attended the same high school in New York City. In fact, J and my brother were both in the same graduating class. I knew who J was because he was cast in some theatre productions at our high school, and our high school (Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, New York) has long been renowned for its high-level theatrical shows. 


I remember a few years after high school I ran into J at the Brooklyn Museum, a revered art and cultural institution. I said hello to him and I recall he gave me what could only be described, charitably, as the "stink eye." 

A few years ago a member of my shul, who happened to work with J at a very well-known news media outlet, was talking with me and asked if I would be willing to have J contact me about writing a story (or assigning someone to write a story) about my research on Lost Synagogues in New York City. I was pleased that my fellow congregant would suggest this, but I thought back to the last time I had seen J, and wondered if J would want to bother to contact me. Actually I contacted J through Facebook, and he never replied. I know he read my message (Facebook allows you to see that someone reads your messages, including the time) but he wrote no response.

I offer this back story to show that I do not have the highest regard for J, despite his success in life. So far. He has been rude to me on more than one occasion, but heck, other have been as well. That's life, eh? 

Well, this past week, J abruptly resigned from his high-level position at this well-known news media outlet. And several major and minor news media outlets have been covering his fall from grace. Apparently it involved bad behavior on his part, and it had been going on for a while. 

When I heard this news (initially passed on to me by a friend whose brother also knew J in high school) I was shocked, floored. THIS guy was in hot water? This guy, who had a powerful and bright career, was in trouble? I had to read up on this, and have done so over the past few days. It is not a pretty story.

Am I gloating? No. If anything I feel disgust. How and why does a talented, ambitious person screw up? But he is not the first nor last talented and ambitious person to screw up. To return to my opening statement, people are not perfect and people do foolish things. The Torah and our teachings urge us to do good things. And thus I state the following: do the wrong things, and heck, they will catch up with you.

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