Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Fox And The Vineyard

A sly fox passed a lovely vineyard. A tall, thick fence surrounded the vineyard on all sides. As the fox circled around the fence, he found a small hole in the fence, barely large enough for him to push his head through. The fox could see what luscious grapes grew in the vineyard, and his mouth began to water. But the hole was too small for him. So what did the clever fox do? He fasted for three days until he became so thin that he managed to slip through the hole.

Inside the vineyard, the fox began to eat to his heart's content. He grew bigger and fatter than ever before. Finally, he decided he had eaten enough and wanted to leave the vineyard. But alas! The hole was too small again. So what did he do? He fasted for three days again, and then just about managed to slip through the hole and out again.

Turning his head towards the vineyard, the poor fox said: "Vineyard, O’ vineyard! How lovely you look, and how lovely are your fruits and vines. But what good are you to me? Just as I came to you, so I leave you..."

And so, our Sages say, it is also with this world. It is a beautiful world, but, as King Solomon teaches, just as man comes into this world empty-handed, so he leaves it. Only the Torah he studied, the mitzvot he performed, and the good deeds he practiced are the real fruits which he can take with him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Avrohom - live life to the fullest!

Many of us are too frightened to enter into our lives and live it fully, with complete presence of mind, heart and body, with passion and zest. We do not trust life enough to let it possess us. Life holds too much pain, too many disappointments, so much shame, anger and guilt; we would rather let our days pass by as we "mark time" and retain a certain distance, so that we remain safe.

Yet Avraham and Sarah, the Torah says, "They came into the days;" they fully entered into their days. All their days were explored,utilized and lived to the fullest.

Avraham and Sarah enjoyed tremendous blessings and victories, as well as profound pain and disappointment, including the fact that Sarah was (at that time) childless. Yet throughout the positive as well as the challenging, the joyous as well as the painful -- they allowed themselves to experience the pulse of life in its totality. They did not retreat into the cocoon of safe detachment.

Sure, it is safer to create a border between yourself and your experiences. No sorrow, no pain, no tears. But that may come at the cost of LIVING, of a life filled with exuberance, laughter and passion..

And the Torah tells us that Abraham's courage lasted him till the very end. "Abraham was old, he came into the days." Even as a widower, Abraham did not detach from life. He breathed it in, with all of its majesty, drama and pain. That is what we call truly living: acquiring the courage to become one with life, to feel it and to love it.

Till his last breath, Avraham, the founder of the Jewish faith awoke each morning and said, "I will live my life today to the fullest; my heart and soul will fully go along with the ride we call living."