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- Jewish Spirituality

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Jewish Mysticism

Oftentimes, we resemble the man in the story below from the Jewish mystical tradition: We hurry —to get somewhere, to get something done, to fulfill some task. Such a "hurrying" attitude can become habitual, and the hurrying itself begins to be more critical to us than what we are actually hurrying towards. The next time you notice that you are hurrying, ask yourself, “What will happen if I simply stand still and breathe deeply for a moment?”

The Rabbi of Berditchev saw a man hurrying along the street looking neither right nor left. “Why are you rushing so?” he asked him.

“I am after my livelihood,” the man replied.

“And how do you know,” continued the rabbi, “that your livelihood is running on before you, so that you have to rush after it? Perhaps it is behind you, and all you need do to encounter it is to stand still—but you are running away from it!”

—from Tales of the Hasidim
by Martin Buber
Schocken Books, Inc. ©1947, 1975
Book One p. 226

We all know what it's like to be interrupted when we we are in the middle of an important task. We feel frustrated that our focus is disturbed. Perhaps we place too much importance on our part of the equation and not enough on God’s. When you are interrupted try asking yourself, “How can I be attentive to the presence of God in this interruption?”

Another time the Rabbi of Berditchev saw a man in the marketplace, a man so intent upon his business that he never looked up. He stopped him and asked: “What are you doing?”

The man answered hurriedly: “I have no time to talk to you now.”

But the zaddik refused to be snubbed. He repeated his questions: “What are you doing?”

Impatiently the man cried: “Don’t delay me. I have to attend to my business.”

But the rabbi insisted. “All right,” he said. “But you, yourself—what are you doing? Everything you are so worried about is in the hands of God, and all that is in yours is to fear God.”

—from Tales of the Hasidim
by Martin Buber
Schocken Books, Inc. ©1947, 1975
Book One pp. 226, 227

Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber

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