A Rabbi’s Story

A rabbi once asked his students: “How do we know when the night has ended and the day has begun?”  The students thought they grasped the importance of this question.  There are, after all, prayers and rites and rituals that can only be done at nighttime.  And there are prayers and rites and rituals that belong only to the day.  So, it is important to know how we can tell when night has ended and day has begun.

So the first and brightest of the students offered an answer: “Rabbi, when I look out at the fields and I can distinguish between my field and the field of my neighbor, that’s when the night has ended and the day has begun.”

A second student offered his answer: “Rabbi, when I look from the fields and I see a house, and I can tell that it’s my house and not the house of my neighbor, that’s when the night has ended and the day has begun.”

A third student offered another answer: “Rabbi, when I see an animal in the distance, and I can tell what kind of animal it is, whether a cow or a horse or a sheep, that’s when the night has ended and the day has begun.”

Then a fourth student offered yet another answer: “Rabbi, when I see a flower and I can make out the colors of the flower, whether they are red or yellow or blue, that’s when night has ended and day has begun.”

Each answer brought a sadder, more severe frown to the rabbi’s face.  Until finally he shouted, “No!  None of you understands!  You only divide!  You divide your house from the house of your neighbor, your field from your neighbor’s field, you distinguish one kind of animal from another, you separate one color from all the others.  Is that all we can do – dividing, separating, splitting the world into pieces?  Isn’t the world broken enough?  Isn’t the world split into enough fragments?  Is that what Torah is for?  No, my dear students, it’s not that way, not that way at all!”

The shocked students looked into the sad face of their rabbi.  “Then, Rabbi, tell us: How do we know that night has ended and day has begun?”

The rabbi stared back into the faces of his students, and with a voice suddenly gentle and imploring, he responded: “When you look into the face of the person who is beside you, and you can see that person is your brother or your sister, then finally the night has ended and the day has begun.”

As told in Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerators by Thomas L. Friedman

 

Published by: rustytugman

I am a husband, father, and preacher. I have the great privilege of serving a wonderful church family at the Alameda Church of Christ in Norman, OK. I have graduate degrees in ministry and administrative leadership and I also run the occasional marathon. This blog provides a platform to share some thoughts about Scripture, church, ministry, leadership, current events, books I'm reading, and baseball. Thanks for joining me!

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