Pre-Game Chatter: How quick are you to give up on a task when success seems bleak? Has your level of patience (or lack thereof) evolved over the years?
Prior to the eighth of the Ten Plagues, Pharaoh’s magicians urge their master to let the Israelites depart:
The Pitch: “Pharaoh’s courtiers said to him, ‘How long shall this one be a snare to us? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God! Are you not yet aware that Egypt is lost?’” – Exodus 10:7
Swing #1: “The increasing feebleness of [the sorcerers’] dark arts makes for great black comedy – and hilariously effective testimony for God’s power. [They] are the gangster’s dumb sidekicks … the cringing flunkies who do every tyrant’s dirty work, and it’s wonderful to see them meet the deserved misfortune of flunkies everywhere.” – David Plotz, Good Book
Swing #2: “By the third round of three [plagues], Pharaoh has utterly decayed. He is but holding on by a thread. Still, in his long practiced obstinacy and towering ego, he endures against Aaron, Moses, the Jews, and God. Indeed, by the outset of the eighth plague, Pharaoh’s own courtiers have folded and he stands against them, too.” – Burton L. Visotzky, The Road to Redemption: Lessons From Exodus on Leadership & Community
Swing #3: “[The sorcerers] waited [to accost Pharaoh] until Moses had left, as they did not want to challenge their King in Moses’ presence, and they did not want to give Moses the satisfaction to know that they were afraid of him.” – Tur HaAroch
Late-Inning Questions: Are you surprised it takes Pharaoh’s magicians so long to lose their patience with him? Are our commentators surprised? Under what circumstances is giving up virtuous? Is “Never Give Up” an absolute value?
On-Deck at Emanu-El: I’m pleased that two rabbis will be visiting Emanu-El in February to interview to be its next spiritual leader. Please check the synagogue emails, website, and app to find out how you can meet these candidates.
The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of giving up, Walter Alston was one of the best managers in baseball history, but his big-league playing career left something to be desired: he appeared in one Major League game in 1936, and during the two innings that he played, he struck out and made a fielding error. Maybe I would’ve given up too.