Thursday, January 10, 2008

594. Slaves

Because I have no coherent words to share this evening, here's an excerpt from TorahFax. I randomly discovered this list, published by Rabbi Zalmen Marozov of Quebec, at almost the very first minute I decided I liked being Jewish. Their emails are kind of folksy and old-fashioned, and remind me of one of my favorite books when I was a kid.

An ancient story is told of a wealthy man who, in addition to many fields and orchards, had many servants and slaves. He was unkind, difficult and also had a violent temper. If a slave didn't fulfill his wishes to the fullest, he would be beaten mercilessly.

Once when he was beating one of his slaves, a wise man happened to walk by. He stopped and said, "It is neither proper nor ethical for one slave to be hitting another slave!"

"What do you mean one slave hitting another?" declared the rich man angrily. "I am the owner and he is my slave!"

"You are mistaken! In my opinion, you are more slave than he is! He, unfortunately, has no choice that he is a slave, but you, who cannot control your anger, are indeed enslaved to your evil temper and temptations. Your anger is your master and ruler and you are enslaved to it!"

Also greed, jealousy, workaholism, in addition to anger... New York City is full of slaves. And each Shabbat I feel more like a free person than I did the week before. One day I hope to live like the last paragraph of the Amidah:

Grant me the privilege of the liberating joy of Shabbat... Help me to extend the joy of Shabbat to the other days of the week, until I attain the goal of deep joy always. (Siddur Sim Shalom, p. 441)

No comments: