THE FOLLY OF MINDING ONE’S OWN BUSINESS

A group of people were travelling in a boat. One of them took a drill and began to drill a hole beneath himself.

His companions said to him: “Why are you doing this?” Replied the man: “What concern is it of yours? Am I not drilling under my own place?”

Said they to him: “But you will flood the boat for us all!”

Here’s a slightly different version:

A group of people are sitting in a boat. One takes an axe and begins chopping at the floor. The others cry in horror, “What are you trying to do?’ The man answers, ‘What business is it of yours? I am doing this to my part of the boat!”

Source | Vayikra Rabba 4:6

CONSIDER THIS

The moral of this story is clear: one person’s destructive action may literally drown the entire community. But we might add that the inverse is also true: a single positive change may transform an entire community.

  • What holes have you been boring in your life, thinking, ‘It’s only my seat’?
  • Are you willing to take a look at how they are affecting the lives of others, especially the ones you love?

LOOK UP AND SEE

The splitting of the Red Sea, according to Jewish tradition, is the greatest miracle ever performed. And yet we have one midrash that mentions two Israelites, Reuven and Shimon, who had a different experience.

Apparently the bottom of the sea, though safe to walk on, was not completely dry but a little muddy, like a beach at low tide.
Reuven stepped into it and curled his lip. “What is this muck?”

Shimon scowled, “There’s mud all over the place!”

“This is just like the slime pits of Egypt!” replied Reuven.

“What’s the difference?” Complained Shimon. “Mud here, mud there; it’s all the same.”

And so it went for the two of them, grumbling all the way across the bottom of the sea. And, because they never once looked up, they never understood why on the distant shore, everyone else was singing and dancing. For Reuven and Shimon the miracle never happened.

Source | Shemot Rabba 24.1
Story is also told in Lawrence KushnerEyes Remade for Wonder, pages 11-12

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • While the sea had parted, for Reuven and Shimon the miracle never made it’s way into their heart, or their life. This is a story about the permission to look up.
  • What are the blinders you choose to wear? There is something about our myopic vision that not only affects what we see, but also our capacity to risk or embrace or celebrate or sing and dance or praise or venture or love wholeheartedly.
%d bloggers like this: