Having been the poster child of the 99lb weakling for all those Charles Atlas ads in the back of my childhood comic books, I feel that I must inform my friends, and for that matter, my enemies as well, of my brute strength. My pinky can counteract the gravity of an entire planet that weighs over six trillion kilograms! It’s true. I do it every time I lift a feather with my finger. |
I sense that you are not impressed, and that you are considering sending me back to the Atlas ads. So why are so many of you impressed with the “power” displayed by bullies? I pray with a wonderful group of people, one or two of whom are bullies. They demand their way and they get it. These men do not earn the respect of the other members of the minyan; they demand it and they get it, at least, externally.
They shush everyone else during prayers, but no one will dare shush them when they schmooze during the reading of the Torah or the repetition of the Amidah.
I was shushed yesterday when someone came over to me and pointed to a verse with an expression of confusion on his face. He did not say a word. I, without saying a word, pointed to another verse that would answer his question. One of the bullies shushed so loud that everyone else turned to see what was happening.
After services I said to the bully, “Your shushing might be more effective if you did not speak so much during davening!” No one had ever stood up to him before. He shrank before my very eyes. In fact, he was the inspiration for the melting of the Wicked Witch of the West. I do not expect anymore bullying from him. The 99lb weakling stood up to the bully and won. I told you I was strong!
Why was I the first person to stand up to him? We have a strange relationship with power. Many of us seem to accept when someone claims power whether deserving or not.
I often see a rabbi being granted power simply because he yells more forcefully than all the others. How did Moshe and Aaron measure up to Korach’s bullying?
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