There is a well-known anecdote about a young tourist visiting the home of Ludwig Van Beethoven; it seems the pretentious young woman, upon seeing Beethoven's piano, sat down and played one of the great composer's pieces. When she was finished, she stood up looking quite pleased with herself. The horrified guide closed the keyboard cover and informed the group that the week before, the world renowned pianist, Arturo Toscanini was on the same tour. He too sat at the piano bench, but he would not play Beethoven's piano. He felt he was unworthy.
One of the biggest surprises in the narrative of Genesis comes during Yaakov’s reunion with Esau when he returns to the land of Canaan. When Esau comes to meet his brother with a menacing entourage of 400 men, but when he sees Yaakov, he runs to embrace him and weep together with him at their reunion (Gen. 33:4).
Gratitude usually comes easily when receiving a gift (assuming it’s a gift we want). When a friend shows kindness towards me, it is very easy to be consciously grateful for that friend. It is a sad reality that it is difficult to maintain consistent, conscious gratefulness for the people in our lives beyond the times they seem to most demonstrate kindness towards us.
As the 2012 presidential race heats up, I’m struck—and troubled—by how invested in one candidate or party many believers seem to be. It’s good to be involved in the political process, but the passion with which some believers demonize the opposition and line up with one party line or another suggests that they really believe the political system holds the key to life’s toughest problems. They’ve forgotten that all this represents a kingdom that we’re not really part of.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. -- Romans 12:15, 16
R. Simon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, Let him be created, whilst others urged, let him not be created. Thus it is written, Love and Truth fought together, Righteousness and Peace combated each other (Ps.85, 11). Love said, 'Let him be created, because he will dispense acts of love'; Truth said, 'Let him not be created, because he is compounded of falsehood'; Righteousness said, 'Let him be created, because he will perform righteous deeds'; Peace said, 'Let him not be created, because he is full of strife'. What did the Lord do? He took Truth and cast it to the ground! -- Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 8:5
And the Lord God called to man, and He said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I am naked; so I hid." And He said, "Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" And the man said, "The woman whom You gave [to be] with me she gave me of the tree; so I ate." And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent enticed me, and I ate." – Bereishit 3:9-13
"It's a question of discipline," the little prince told me later on. "When you've finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet." – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from French by Richard Howard
On another occasion, Rabbi Israel [Salanter] encountered an orphan boy wandering about and not going to school. When he asked the charity wardens why they did not see to defraying the costs of that orphan’s studies, they evaded the question with various excuses. Rabbi Israel responded to them with the cry: “One may sell Torah scrolls in order to pay the cost of study!” --Rabbi Israel Salanter and the Mussar Movement: Seeking the Torah of Truth, Immanuel Etkes, p. 168
When we realize that “love your neighbor as yourself” is part of the great commandment of the Shema (Mt. 22:37–40; Lk. 10:25–28), it increases our responsibility level substantially. A Torah expert talking with Messiah Yeshua realizes this increased responsibility and seeks to limit it with a question: “And who exactly is my neighbor?”