Saturday, December 01, 2007

572. Pillow-top and Rashi

I'm laying on my new mattress. It is heavenly. I feel like a typical American consumer of unnecessary luxury items while people on the other side of the world are starving, but I still want to stay in bed forever.

The mattress did not arrive on Friday. The delivery guys showed up with the wrong size; I called the mattress co. and yelled; they apologized profusely. I felt guilty for revealing my rude New Yorker DNA. Then they offered to send me the correct, smaller size--for the same price as the larger. I knew this made no sense but really wanted the mattress NOW, like a three-year-old stomping her foot, and almost said yes. But my common sense (or perhaps echoes of the same voices that told me I should sleep on a rock) eventually prevailed. I cancelled the order.

Five minutes minutes later the mattress co. called back and offered to deliver the correct size at a large discount. I don't understand this business model, but I don't mind it, either.

Because the Torah always seems to know what's happening in my life, last night at a contemplative Shabbat service we studied a section of this week's parasha, Vayeshev:

And when his brothers saw that it was he their father loved more than all his brothers, they hated him and they could not speak to him peacefully.
--Genesis 37:4

Rashi's commentary on the line:

From what is stated to their discredit, we may learn something to their credit: they did not say one thing with their mouth and think differently in their heart.
--Genesis Rabbah 84:9

We formed hevruta to explore our reactions to the pasuk and commentary. A contemplative hevruta is not a conversation; rather, each person speaks uninterrupted for a few minutes while the other listens with complete attention. Rarely in life do we get to be heard fully, or have the opportunity to listen fully. It is a meditative and freeing experience no matter which side of the conversation you're on.

I found myself talking about the mattress, which had refused to retreat from the front of my mind even after all those minutes of silence. I commended the honesty of Joseph's brothers; yes, the whole experience was messy and mean, but everything turned out OK. (Well, except for Pharaoh and the 40-year-exile business. But that wasn't Joseph's brothers' fault.) I told my somewhat bewildered hevruta partner how I, too, spoke my mind that very afternoon, felt bad about yelling into the phone, but also got what I wanted and deserved. In the end losing my temper stopped me from getting screwed.

I left services feeling as if I had besmirched Torah by comparing its wisdom to my dealings with a mattress company, but also determined to never be afraid of acting upon what was in my heart. (Within reason--I draw the line at throwing a loved one into a pit). Also that Rashi, and Whomever wrote down those Joseph stories in the first place, were pretty smart guys.

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