Monday, November 3, 2008

The humble and the noble

Jewish tale number one...

A young Torah scholar came to his rabbi's house, and said, "rabbi, my wife doesn't understand me. She won't keep the children quiet so I can focus on my learning. She asks for my help with the baby. She reminds me the children need warm clothes for the winter. I feel my spiritual life is in danger because I get so caught up in the mundane. You are my teacher. Tell me what to say to her."

He looked around. The rabbi's house was full of children, from adults to little ones. Several of them were playing right outside the tiny office, making a lot of noise. One of the children fell down, bruised his elbow, and started crying. The rabbi hurried to the sobbing child, held him on his knee, and stroked his hair until his tears had dried and he was happy again.

Then, he slowly ran his fingers through his long beard, pondering the young man's question. "I'm sorry for the interruption," - he began.

But the young scholar realized he didn't need to hear anything anymore. Tears of shame filled his eyes, and he hurried home to his wife.

***

And Jewish tale number two.

A rabbi asked one of his best students, "why do you seem so frustrated lately? Is there anything wrong?"
"It's my wife," - replied the young man with a sigh, - "she asks me to help her with housework, claiming she's too busy and tired with the new baby. No matter how many times I explain I'm too busy with my studies of the Torah to be bothered with such trifles, she doesn't give up, and every day we end up arguing over this."

On the next day, the young scholar's wife was startled to hear a knock on the door, and see her husband's rabbi standing on the doorstep. He was wearing plain work clothes and holding a broomstick, mop and bucket.

"I heard you need help around the house," - he said.

***

Judaism has never proclaimed celibacy in the name of spiritual excellence. All men are commanded to marry, and children were never looked upon as anything else but gifts and blessings. All our greatest men had been family men, with everything it includes - messy houses, crying babies and sticky fingers.

It's easy to feel spiritual when you are impeccably dressed and immersed in holy studies. It's easy to feel spiritual when you have all the time in the world to learn, pray, and meditate, without having to think of other people's most basic needs needs. Unfortunately, it also becomes frighteningly easy to feel holier than you really are.

The brilliance of mind, the theory of holy studies are noble. But there must be also room for spiritual growth in the way of a humble, loving, selfless, giving heart. In wiping dirty little hands, in helping a tired woman mop the floor, in taking care of feeding, clothing, sheltering and guiding the little ones God gives us.

Men might not be the primary child caretakers, or household keepers, but mundane works should not be beneath them. In this world, we are not and cannot be pure souls. That's why the spiritual, the studies of Torah, were always to be seen as a guide to living in this world. The physical isn't cancelled and isn't seen as the enemy, but rather, is used to enhance the spiritual. Being "too holy" to do the dishes or wipe up baby spit can mean only one thing: you are missing out on the truest, humble nobility of heart.

28 comments:

Sue said...

How beautiful! Thank you for sharing this.

Rose said...

Hello Anna,

Great post as usual but I'm here mainly to say: what a stunning photo! So glad you have shared it with us all.

Take care.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to be off topic, but do you know if Michelle (coffee catholic) had her baby?? If so, please send her my congratulations and good wishes?! My name is Anne.... ;o)

p.s. I lurk here too! LOL...

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anne,

I wonder about that myself. :-) I haven't heard from Michelle for over a week, and last time she emailed me in between contractions. I hope she had her baby and that both she and the baby are fine.

Mary L. said...

Anna,I love your new photo. You look radiant as you are carrying your first child. It was a wonderful post and so very true. In our family we are blessed to be expecting 3 new great grandchildren.

Blessings,

Mary L.

Ace said...

Oh Anna, AMEN SISTER! I LOVED this post. It is so easy to see the needs of babies and others in our families as "keeping" us from the Lord. But it is by SERVING those needs that we draw closer to Him by becoming more like him.

I read a blog recently where she said she had started believing the lie that she should be out doing "ministry" and not with her small children. The Lord pointed out to her that where He talks in the Bible about doing things to the "least of these" is doing it to him...he ment HER FAMILY and not for her to leave her family to fend for themselves and run around and find strangers to minister to. She realized serving her family was her MINISTRY and exactly where God had called her to be. I think this goes for Men too, in just the way you showed.

It is kind of cool to think that King David was most likely spit up on or pooped on by at least ONE of his kids :) Maybe Soloman LOLOLO

Many Blessings and I hope you and your family are well.

Ace

www.xanga.com/CocoaRae said...

How simple, how profound, how utterly what I needed to hear today. The Lord has truly been driving this home to me lately!

Ways of Zion said...

brilliant...simply brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Too true, too true!....I love these stories! :o) God's work IS very often in the mundane, uninteresting tasks of our lives. I'm glad it is so.

Brenda

Linda said...

great post! :)

I have a book with over 600 pages of these 'jewish tales' - and absolutely love them all!

greetings from the netherlands!

Deanna Gilbert said...

Dearest Anna,
I so enjoy reading your blog and admire the wisdom that you share within your writings. At such a young age, you demonstrate godly characteristics that are a blessing to others. As I look over my own life, I wish I had had such wisdom at such a young age. God's word hidden in our hearts is so much needed. May your pregnancy continue to go well as you carry a beautiful baby being woven in your womb. God richly bless.
Deanna

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post...many of the young men in my acquaintance need to read this! It seems as if some of them think they have far too many "spiritual" things to do to settle down and get married.

Naomi Rebecca said...

Beautiful parables. Thank you!

Kelly said...

Oh wonderful stories, so well said Anna.
Love the new photo too.

Anonymous said...

Life is where true spirituality and faith are (or should) manifest. These are great tales.

Mrs.KAOS said...

Anna,
This is a very touching post. I must say that I feel the most spiritual when I am at work; gardening, the dishes, volunteering in the community. This is when I feel the most thoughtful and in touch with the spirit. Thank you for an other thought provoking post.

~Kate
P.S. Your new photo is so lovely, your smile and eyes say so much :)

Aelwyn said...

Wonderful stories! In Orthodox Christianity, we believe that God makes all things sacred. There is no mundane, but all of life is lived as an act of worship - or should be. I fall short so much of the time in this and forget that cleaning the bathroom can please God as much as studying the scriptures. If done with the right heart...

Kristi said...

those stories say a lot!

I really like your new picture also. You have a beautiful smile!

HisBeloved said...

Thank you for this wonderfully encouraging post. I have linked it on my site so that others maybe encouraged too!

Marianne said...

Anna,

I got tears in my eyes after reading this post.

Thank you.

Rhonda in Chile said...

Those were great! As a Baptist preacher's wife in a Catholic country, people seem surprised that my husband should be married, and even more so that she should be pregnant!

True piety is when the rubber meets the road, faith out into practice. Bless that rabbi!

PandaBean said...

These were great. It just shows me how much wisdom Christians can learn from their Jewish brethren. It also brings to mind a few reasons why I love being Catholic; one, it is the only brand of Christianity that I am aware of to stick as close to our Jewish heritage (Jesus was a Jew, y'all!) and two, that Catholic priests are asked to not marry one woman, instead they are considered married to the entire Church, the whole mystical body of Christ. So while they may not get too much baby spit on themselves, they do have to do all the housework and cooking etc. all by themselves and they tend to the young and elders and infirm and pretty much everyone (at least everyone who asks) in the giant extended family of God! How great is that!

God Bless!
PandaBean

Americans, don't forget to vote on Nov. 4! Vote against death! Vote against Obama!

Bonnie S said...

Lovely post! Great illustrations :-)

It's true that we can (if we forget that all things can be done in the right spirit) become so 'heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use'. I pray none of us will be like that!

USAincognito said...

What great reminders that sometimes serving God is done while doing the simple things like wiping runny noses, helping the wife clean the house, and just taking the time to be with the family.

Buffy said...

Wonderful stories indeed! What truly great men those rabbis were.

I am reminded of the story of two men living in a closed religous community (can't remember which denomination) who complained to their elder about a woman who was a widow and was out mending her roof in trousers. Such immodesty! The elder told them to get their tools together and get round there and fix the roof for the woman.

You know I don't think it is just men who need this reminder. It is always easier to sit reading about how you should live your life than to actually live your life well.

NHizName said...

Great stories! I'm new to your blog, but will be visiting agin!

Mrs. B said...

Wonderful!
Thank you!
Mrs. B

Gombojav Tribe said...

Inspiring and simply lovely!