Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Another Elul story

I heard the following story from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz a while back:

There was once a vagrant who, stumbling around drunk in the rain, collapsed on the street, in front of a monastery. Several passing monks took him in, bathed him and placed him, still naked, in one of the monastery’s rooms.

The vagrant awoke, naked, not knowing where he was. He saw some clothing in the room and immediately put them on. He looked in a mirror and saw that he was dressing as a monk. The vagrant thought that he must then be a monk. But he didn’t recall being a monk. He saw a book and thought, “All monks can read. I will try to read that book. If I can read it then I must be a monk.” He proceeded to open the book and discovered that, indeed, he did not know how to read.

The vagrant continued to think. I am dressed like a monk & yet I cannot read. What does this mean?
It must be that all monks cannot read, but they are all faking, and none of them can read.
The moral of the story is that many people when confronting religious obstacles think that they are insurmountable. And when they see someone who has made tremendous strides religiously where they have not, instinctively think that the other person must be faking.

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