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People Can Change Course in Mediation – A Biblical View.

March 2, 2013

I am not a religious scholar but I do sometimes look in the Five Books of Moses for inspiration and ideas.  This I did today.  It is Saturday (Shabbat), after all, and why not a little afternoon Torah study.

I looked up the section of the Torah that is studied this week, and there I found the inspiration for this piece.

That portion or Parashat, called Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) includes the story of the Golden Calf.

Most of us know the story:

Moses goes up the mountain to receive the law from God and is gone a long time.  In the interim, the people of Israel become anxious and cast a golden calf to worship.  God then becomes so angry God wants to destroy them.  Moses intervenes and God renounces the punishment God had planned.  Moses challenges the people to see their mistake and to take corrective action, which they do.  God forgives, imposing a lesser punishment, and instructs Moses to lead the people to the land of milk and honey.

Or something like that.

In this Torah portion, God listens to Moses’ reasoning, God reflects on the potential harm resulting from God’s anger, and God changes course.  God allows the people to clean up their mistakes and forgives them.

This is such a good example for disputants who come to mediation so angry they cannot see straight.

If, with the guidance of a mediator, they can reflect on the potential harm of continuing the dispute, if they can allow the other disputants – or themselves – to acknowledge or clean up their mistakes or make amends, and if they can allow for a little forgiveness as well, they can change course too, as God did, and lead themselves and each other out of the misery in which the conflict has placed them.

So, these are my simple thoughts this Saturday afternoon.

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