Positive Vision - Day 50
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 50 - A Flawless Diamond - The Delicate Nature of the Jew’s Neshamah
There is often a correlation between an item’s value and its sensitivity to imperfections and flaws. For example, the value of a diamond with a seemingly infinitesimal flaw is seriously diminished, whereas another scratch on an old clunker barely makes a dent in its value. Once we acknowledge and appreciate that we are Hashem’s diamond, His treasured nation, we can also embrace our responsibility to carefully guard our correspondingly sensitive neshamos.
The Dubno Maggid makes this point in addressing another question (raised in the Midrash): Why is it that Jews have so many more laws and courts than non-Jews? It would seem that we need extra work to straighten ourselves out! His answer addresses also why we must be so careful as regards the kedushah of our neshamah.
He explains, as is his style, with a mashal:
A country bumpkin once met a city dweller and they started comparing notes about their different lifestyles. The urbanite noted proudly that there are many more doctors and hospitals in the city than in the rural areas. The other fellow countered:
“I’m not so sure having so many doctors is a good thing. I think they make people sick. Look, where I live, we have very few doctors and there are very few sick people. We farmers almost always show up for work. But you city slickers - you people are always taking off days due to ‘sick leave’!”
The city dweller smiled.
“Okay. Let me explain. Where you people live, a person isn’t considered sick until he is at death’s door. As long as he can move, he can drive the tractors and milk the cows. So unless a person is completely disabled, you have little need for doctors. When you use your gross faculties, your physical body, fine tuning is not needed. Many city dwellers, on the other hand, work with their minds. We are actuaries, doctors, lawyers, accountants, programmers, and investment bankers. If we are even a little under the weather, we cannot perform our jobs properly. Sublime things, like one’s mind, require delicate care. So we have to maintain higher standards for our health, and this fine tuning is provided by our many doctors.”
Klal Yisrael, as Hashem’s chosen people, are expected to live up to high standards of moral and ethical conduct. This standard demands an extensive system of laws and judges, and great attention to the dictates of kedushah, to attain and maintain the level of ethical behavior demanded of Hashem’s people.
Like they say, it comes with the turf.