Sunday, March 05, 2006

Learning from the Thieves of Time...

From the Olas Shabbos weekly lesson:
Rabbi Meshulam Zusya of Anipoli zt”l used to say he learned seven things from a thief:

1) He works quietly and stealthily without others knowing.
2) He is ready to place himself in danger to attain his goals.
3) He pays great attention to even the smallest detail.
4) He puts all his energy into his work.
5) Alertness.
6) He is confident and optimistic.
7) If he does not succeed at first, he keeps trying and never gives up. [Ha’yom Yom p. 107]

(R’ Mendel Futerfas zt”l, who spent many years imprisoned in Siberia for his outreach activities, once said that this was only because R’ Zusya never sat in prison. Had he been in prison, he would have learned thousands of things from thieves! More about R’ Mendel later.)
Sounds like an awful lot of academic advice I've read over the years. There's a full-bore satire in here somewhere... Seriously, though:
From my enemies You have made me wise (Tehillim/Psalms 119:98).

There is much to be learned regarding how we serve Hashem by observing the work of our enemies, particularly the enemy from within; the yetzer hara. [ed. -- Evil Impulse]

There is no greater thief than that inner thief. He robs us of our time, our peace of mind, our goals, our closeness to Hashem. When we consider the consistency with which he works, the energy he expends to make us sin, and the creativity he uses, we should be inspired to harness our own energy, consistency, and creativity to better serve our Maker. [Kedushas Levi, Haggada shel Pesach]
Why does our yetzer hara allow us to accomplish some tasks so effortlessly, and others seem close to impossible? By observing the things the yetzer hara makes it hardest to do, we gain insight into what’s really important, and what’s incidental. Generally, things that come without effort or struggle are not what matter the most. That’s why he doesn’t bother distracting us; in fact, the easier, the better, as we will continually be drawn to the things that come easiest.
The Buddhist call this kind of self-awareness "mindfulness." Self-awareness is our greatest tool, if we would only use it.

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