I am a humanitarian Messianic Jewish Rabbi, leading Messianic Jewish congregations since 1981, involved in humanitarian work since 1990.
Whenever we would visit my grandparents, everything in their Bronx apartment was in perfect order. Nothing was out-of-place, and there was no clutter lying around. The minute they were done with any paper, my grandfather would take it down the hall to the incinerator, and it was gone. Nothing was ever dusty, and all the glass was sparkling. My grandmother liked things to be clean. When she would visit our home, the first thing my grandmother did was to take for the vacuum and give our carpets the once over. At first my mom got offended, but in the end, she let grandma do her thing.
Most people have had the experience of going to a restaurant with other people and having to wait on one person who can’t make up their mind over what to order. The person ordering agonizes over what to get, and meanwhile, everyone else is hungry and waiting, because their order won’t be placed until the indecisive individual comes to a decision. You just want them to order anything just to get the ball rolling.
During the last half of December through the month of January, I was recuperating from surgery and was, for the most part, bedridden. To pass the time, I played an online game called cityville. The point of the game was to build a city from scratch. Since I had time on my hands, I started out with a one horse town I named Michaelville.
I’ve heard Patience defined, not as the ability to wait, but as the ability to wait with a good attitude. Patience is a wonderful thing, but no one wants to have it for themselves. We want other people to be patient. The value in patience is that we get to see events unfold and we can gain deeper understandings. Patience is something that is learned. It doesn’t come naturally.
Truth is one of those intangible concepts that are difficult to define. When Yeshua said he bore witness of the truth, Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” It’s a good question. We live in a world where truth is so subjective, that the idea of it becomes almost meaningless.
Most of us hold to some basic truths we were raised with. Family roles are a good example of this. In the classic musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” the song “Tradition” spelled out marital roles more specifically. “Who, day and night, must scramble for a living, feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers? And who has the right, as master of the house, to have the final word at home? The Papa, the Papa! “
Keeping one’s cool, or calmness, is a fairly important middah, or characteristic for a person to have. When a person is calm, they can act from their intelligence instead of from their emotions. When we act from emotions, we often make mistakes we regret later.
Silence is something we try to avoid. If there is silence in a conversation, we feel awkward, and say something just to fill the void in the conversation. The problem is, when people say something just to fill the silence, often the quality of what is said lacks substance. A good example of this is at funerals. Most people, with the exception of undertakers, feel awkward at funerals. We just don’t know what to say. I have heard some of the most thoughtless comments come out of people’s mouths while trying to be comforting.
Diligence is one of the most underrated of human values. Some people think diligence is just being busy. It reminds me of the old Communist proverb. “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.”
There is a lot more to being diligent than being busy. A good way to understand its importance is to examine what happens without it. The opposite of diligence is laziness, and neglect. One could argue that if I put off something until tomorrow, there is no big deal, because its my time and my life. However, it could be costly. If I buy an airline ticket, the longer I wait, the higher the prices go. I put off stopping to fill my gas tank, and the next day found the prices had risen by 15 cents a gallon. In an age of inflation, the sooner you make your purchases, the better. But this is not the worst part about not being diligent.
A friend on facebook sent me the following craigslist advertisement:
“I have an unused bad of corn meal mix that I am not using. Any needy or hungry person may come and get the bag of cornmeal IF you can prove to me that you are indigent and NEED this cornmeal. Do NOT apply if you are on food stamps, welfare, have section 8 housing OR if you are gainfully employed and can afford your own cornmeal. Also no one that has a Christmas meal with other types of bread available (i.e. rolls ), no pot or cigarette smokers, no drinkers, no gamblers , no gays or lesbians or atheists OR if you have no oven to bake the cornbread in. Good luck, let the applications begin and I will decide who gets the corn meal mix by 6 p.m. Buttermilk for mixing NOT included.”