Wisdom Story – 140

Rabbi Pesach Mendel sat in his study, a holy book on the table in front of him. He looked down at the sacred words. Then he looked up and sighed. He stood up in his tiny study, paced the two short strides to the other side, returned and sat down at his book again.

How could he study the holy texts, with so much on his mind? For one thing, there were the villagers in his care. Was he being too strict with them – or too lenient? Should he spend more time listening to those in need? Or would his time be better spent talking to the wealthy, convincing them to meet the needs of the poor?

For another thing, his office was in perpetual disorder. But how could he use a precious hour like this one to straighten his office, when he might be gaining wisdom from the eternal words? Oh, yes, the book. He returned his attention to the passage he had been trying to study.

At that instant, he heard a loud squeal outside his house. He stood and looked out his tiny window. Outside, two children, a boy and a girl, were running after a ball. They reached it, accidentally kicked it ahead of them, then squealed with delight. They ran after it again, laughing and shrieking.

Some time later, the rabbi’s wife entered the front room of their little house and noticed that the door to the outside stood ajar. She walked over to close it, then noticed that her husband was standing just outside. She watched him. He stood there, shaking his head. Following his gaze, she noticed the children, still chasing their ball. She walked up next to him and took his arm. “Are you all right, Payshe? Are the children disturbing your holy work?”

He turned to face her. “Oh, Mimele,” he said. “I am disturbed, but it is not the fault of the children.” He turned back toward the children. “Look at them,” he said. “Do you see how they run so purposefully after the ball? How every muscle, every bone in their bodies moves them toward the one thing they seek at the moment?” He put his arm on her shoulder, as they both gazed at the playing children. “I am disturbed because I cannot seem to do that. Can you imagine how quickly the whole world would be made holy, if we could all serve God with that much single-mindedness?”

She slipped her arm around his waist. The two of them remained in their doorway a long time, reading the miraculous text before them.



  1. Simon says

    Even children get tired of running after balls soon enough. No matter how single minded we may start out, unless we are verging on OCD, we all end up being distracted. I suppose the Rabbi needs to realise that the key to our success is being able to re-focus after we have been distracted. Which, I suppose, is why God has infinite patience.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

  2. Tim says

    I love what Simon shared…”the key to our success is being able to re-focus after we have been distracted. Which, I suppose, is why God has infinite patience…”

    Which leads to…

    When you get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding… you can be yourself. Relaxed. You’ll no longer be driving with your brakes on. ― Anthony de Mello

    ditto Simon on the weekend :-)

  3. Lynda says

    I have to agree that I am also thankful for God’s patience. Often we forget to look for the holy in the little incidents of everyday life like the joy of little children at play. Thanks for the reminder.

    • says

      I guess I am lucky, being a teacher. There are often little joys to think about at the end of the day when you remember how delighted some child or other was by something they did that day.

      • Simon says

        Ha ha. You obviously found your calling Margaret. I taught for a year after leaving University, albeit at A level age group, and I can’t remember that many delighted children. Mostly there was a grumpy teenager or two to placate (and I was hardly out of short pants myself)! :-)

  4. Denise J says

    I wish I could remember more often that my children are a miraculous “text.” I am much more likely to think of these delightful teenagers as a heaven-sent “test!” :-)

    Good weekend, all.

    • Jim says

      I remember hearing something about how children are like little Zen masters, parachuted into our lives to mess things up and teach us to think about things as they are, letting go of our attachment to what ought to be. Personally, I think my son may be an instrument for Zen mastery, but he is no Zen master. There’s a world of difference between detachment and short attention span!

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