Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two Pockets

Page 50 of the book "Siach Serafei Kodesh," contains the following teaching of the Hasidic Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Przysucha.

"I further heard it said in [R. Simcha Bunim's] name that each and every person should have two pockets to be used when needed. In one pocket "For me was the world created (Mishnah, t. Sanhedrin 4:5)," and in the other, "I am but dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27)."

According to the same source, R. David of Lelov added that many err and use the wrong pocket at the wrong time.

To my mind, this represents a very novel way of finding balance between two religious extremes. On the one hand, we are in God's image and likeness, and are the reason for the creation. Focusing on that alone can lead to pride. On the other hand, we are lowly, helpless, and hapless. Focusing on that, however, leads to depression, dejection, and a sense of futility which Maupassant brilliantly explored in his short story, "The Venus of Braniza." Recognising that there is a time and place for both sentiments helps us ascend higher up the rungs of the ladder leading back to God.

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