Wednesday, December 04, 2013

When Being Right is Wrong

Rabbi Binyamin Ginsberg - Photo credit: New York Daily News
Sometimes being right is not a reason to go ahead. I am frankly appalled by what I just viewed on CBS This Morning

The Supreme Court is going to decide a case brought by Rabbi Binyamin Ginsberg. They are going to determine whether he has a right to sue an airline to restore his frequent flyer mileage.

Rabbi Ginsberg was a frequent flyer on Northwest Airlines (since bought out by Delta). In his job as a consultant he has flies cross country about 75 times a year, thus accumulating those valuable frequent flyer miles. Which he of course uses. All well and good. I use frequent flyer miles all the time.

The problem for Rabbi Ginsberg is that the airline took away those miles because of the vast number of complaints registered by this man. 24 times in 8 months. That happened in 2008. He is suing to get them back.

I agree that he probably should. And I also agree that there are often legitimate things to complain about. But at the same time I can understand why the airline wanted to drop this guy. Unless he is the unluckiest guy in the world, I doubt that all of his complaints were of so serious a nature that they deserved to be made known to the airline. If his complaints were first made to the flight attendants while he was still on board, I can just imagine how he was perceived by both the flight attendants and the other passengers on board.

Has Rabbi Ginsberg never heard of the concept of Vatranus? Sometimes you just have to let things go. You don’t have to complain about every little thing and make a nuisance of yourself. It isn’t always about you. There are other people on board. It does not make a good impression on other passengers when you constantly complain – even if you’re right. Especially if you are wearing a big black Kipa!

And what was his point in complaining? Did he expect some sort of concessions from the airline? Like vouchers for more trips or upgrades in his seating?

And now his case made it all the way up to the Supreme Court… which made the national news.

I understand that he does not want to lose all those miles. I am sympathetic to that. But he should have thought of that when he filing all those complaints. He says that he the complaints weren’t minor. That they were serious ones like being made to wait on the Tarmac for hours. No one likes that. But it happens. And I agree that it is wrong on the part of the airlines to keep the passengers ‘prisoner’ on broad for hours. It has happened to me more than once.

Which is the point. He wasn’t petitioning to change those rules. He was just complaining that he had to go through that. He wasn’t the first and he wasn't alone. There were other passengers on broad. How many of them registered official complaints?  

And what was he looking for when he complained? Compensation of some sort? …like more mileage points? ...or vouchers? ...or just good old American cash? Is that worth making Orthodox Rabbis look like malcontents? Not in my book. For his part Rabbi Ginsberg says that it's not about the money. It's about common courtesy. Well, when someone says it not about the money - it's about the money.

Like I said. Sometimes being right does not call for action. Just because he should not have lost those points and has a right to sue the company that took them away from him (if he indeed does have that right – which is what the Supreme Court is deciding upon) that doesn’t mean he has to exercise it. If you represent Torah, which – like it or not - is what wearing a Kipa is does to you, you have to behave in a manner which will gain you respect. Not in a manner that will make you look like a money hungry malcontent.