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Showing posts from September, 2010

Seeing the Good

There’s a true story told by Jacques Lusseyran, a member of the French Resistance during World War II who was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald. While there, he was put in Prison block 57, a building meant to hold no more than 400 men, but which housed over a thousand men, literally pressed together with no room even to lie down.It was, of course, a living nightmare—daily beatings, brutal slave labor, and no place even to sleep with decency.Even so, explains Lusseyran, there was one old man in block 57 who managed to move around—all the men instinctively gave him a tiny bit of space, in some kind of gesture of reverence.The old man’s name was Jeremy, but his nickname was ‘Socrates,’ because somehow whenever he opened his mouth, the simplest most beautiful words and stories of wisdom emerged.Unlike all the other men, who often screamed and fought and cried out in anguish, this Jeremy, this ‘Socrates’ was always peaceful.Lusseyran writes, “He observed things of the spirit w…

Sacred Pluralism

There is a Hasidic story told of a great master named Reb Zusya, who lived two centuries ago.Once Rabbi Zusya came to an inn, and when he saw the innkeeper, he looked right into the innkeeper’s soul and saw long years of sin.For a while Zusya neither spoke nor moved as he sensed all the terrible things that this innkeeper had done in his life.But when he was alone in his room which had been assigned to him, the shudder of vicarious experience overcame Zusya in the midst of singing psalms and Zusya cried aloud:“Zusya, Zusya, you wicked man!What have you done!There is no lie that failed to tempt you, and no crime you have not committed.Zusya, foolish, erring man , what will be the end of this?’Then he enumerated the sins of the innkeeper, giving the time and place of each, as his own, and sobbed.The innkeeper had quietly followed this strange man.He stood at the door and heard him. First he was seized with dull dismay, but then penitence and grace were lit within him, and the innkeeper …