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No private jet? Pitiful!

Friday, 10 July, 2020 - 2:37 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Are you a compassionate person?

I believe that you are.

There are circumstances and predicaments that you observe that arouse your compassion.

Compassion is defined in the dictionary as ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others’.

(I am interjecting here with an opportunity for compassion. There are several community members who could benefit greatly from a ‘used but still-in-good-functioning-condition’ computer. If you live in Thailand and have a laptop that good still be of use to someone, please let me know We will take care of pickup and have our computer tech support make sure your data is wiped etc. In general this time period has created a lot more stress for people financially, if you are able to give tzedakah to help those who need it click

Allow me to make the following generalizations.

If you were to go and visit people living in a slum in a third world country, you would be aroused with feelings of compassion and pity. 

Let me give you a visual example without having to actually leave your chair. The charity organization ‘Water’, has a video which highlights the fact that 758 million people don’t have access to clean water. I don’t know anything about the charity and how it is run, but I do know that you cannot remain indifferent or uncompassionate when you see images of a little girl scooping up water to drink from a greenish/brown algae filled pond. Their video presentation arouses compassion. 

Pantry Packers in Israel, (who I am very familiar with firsthand, they are an efficient well managed charity), provides food to those who don’t have enough to eat. Not having food to eat is something that arouses our compassion.

Water, clean drinking water is a basic need. Staving off hunger is a basic human need. 

Any of us, when confronted with a person in need of water or in need of food, would be aroused with feelings of compassion and we would be moved to help alleviate the dire need. 

Because we usually don’t interact personally with people who need that kind of help the tzedakah and charity organizations play a critical ‘matchmaking’ role in bringing together those who are in need and those who can alleviate that need. 

If you are an upper-class worker, you may feel compassion for a lower income person who is struggling.

Someone who lives in airconditioned quarters, drives a mediocre car, and can even afford a decent vacation if they cut down on other non-essentials. They are not ‘pity cases’ like those who lack water, but they are juggling and struggling to maintain their lifestyle. Especially when an unanticipated expense comes their way. The higher earner feels pity for the difficulty inherent in that struggle. 

If you are even higher on the financial totem pole, let’s say a millionaire, you may have pity on the upper-class employee for needing to take instructions from their superior.

And so it goes on and up.

Till now I have talked about the easiest thing to draw comparisons about. Money and material quality of life.

Let me move to the field of knowledge.

No doubt you feel sorry for somebody who is totally illiterate. I assume that if you meet someone who doesn’t know how to read or write any language and has no basic grasp of simple arithmetic, you will feel pity and compassion for that person.

If you are a mathematician, you may have pity on someone who struggles with algebra. If you are a dietician, you feel compassion and pity for a person who eats in an unhealthy way.

If you are an expert in epidemiology (how germs spread) you likely felt pity, compassion and dread when you saw how clueless people were (even EMS workers didn’t grasp the enormity of the problem at the beginning) about the super-contagion levels of the new virus. People were carrying on their lives as if all was as usual while you, the epidemiologist was screaming ‘DANGER, DANGER’ and no one listened.

King Solomon said: more knowledge and perception causes more pain.

For example, the advent of TV allowed more people to see what they didn’t even know that they didn’t have. And thus, ironically, become unhappier.

The person without drinking water (who hasn’t seen TV) may not even feel compassion for themselves. They don’t know better. Walking a few miles to obtain drinking water with great difficulty, is their reality.

The struggling middle-class worker should not walk around feeling pitiful. Better would be to lower their expectations and be happy with the very acceptable lifestyle that they have.

The millionaire doesn’t feel sorry for his financial state. Although the billionaire may well think of it as being pitiful to need to make choices based on economic limitations (say like flying first class instead of by private jet). 

Likewise, the person who is clueless about germs and microbes doesn’t feel compassion for himself for congregating in a crown without precautions. He doesn’t see the problem to begin with.

How about if I shared with you, that there is a spiritual reality that we are clueless about. A reality so distant from us, that it puts the chasm of division between the leading world epidemiologist and the most medically uneducated person in the world to shame.

Put on Moses’ glasses for a moment. Moshe Rabeinu who ascended the mountain of Sinai and spoke face to face with G-d.

Imagine him coming down from the mountain after conversing with G-d, the two tablets in hand, and seeing the frenzied dancing around the idolatrous symbol of the ‘golden-calf’. 

Can you imagine how Moshe felt? You can almost hear Moshe’s saying:


If you can imagine the epidemiologists pain, frustration anger and pity mixed in as one when they see a crowded event without precautions, you can multiply it many times to get a glimpse into what Moshe must have been feeling when he saw that sinful spectacle.

(That event, the worshiping of the calf and subsequent breaking of the ‘Two Tablets’ is marked by a Jewish fast day (it was yesterday) which heralds the beginning of the ‘Three Weeks’ mourning period remembering the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. Click here for more info)

My dear friends, I have something to share with you. 

We live our lives in a TRULY EXISTENTIALLY pitiful state.

We don’t ‘get it’. We don’t ‘see’ the reality. We live in the ‘dark’. We make life choices from a state of illiteracy of sorts. Our lifestyles are often at odds with true reality and the source of the energy of the universe. G-d.

The reality of G-dly energy is the most real thing in the world. 

Real, but even less visible than a microbe. It is a totally different plane of existence. Spiritual existence may be ethereal. But it is certainly REAL. And the vast majority of us don’t see it. Perhaps we don’t even regularly sense it. 

It is here though. Our SOULS know it and feel it because they are IT. We have within each of us a ‘part of G-d’ literally. But our human consciousness is immersed in the physical dimension of life, thus we don’t ‘see’ G-dliness like our soul does.

Can you imagine how much compassion we should have for ourselves? That we don’t ‘get it’.

I know you will be thinking that we are doing pretty okay in life, materially and spiritually and we really don’t have a problem that should cause us to consider ourselves as a ‘compassion’ case.

True. The way we limited physical beings see things we are okay.

From G-d’s perspective though, he looks at us scurrying around, amassing materialism while trampling on our spiritual values on the way and He feels ‘pity’ and ‘compassion’ for our cluelessness. 

We, like the slum dwellers who don’t even realize how pitiful and miserable it is not to have access to safe drinking water, don’t have any idea, how incongruous our behavior is with the G-dly reality that pervades us.

There is no way we as mortals can really see this G-dly reality.

But we can pray. That G-d have compassion on us and grant us the gift of perspective. That we should make our life choices based on the TRUTH of G-d.  

In simple English, we pray for G-d to inspire us to think and live as if we can see the reality of His presence.

So that we will do what is RIGHT and stay away from what is WRONG.

G-d commanded the Jewish people in this week’s Parsha to bring a daily offering in the morning and one in the afternoon.

A lamb in the morning. A lamb in the afternoon. 

The Torah masters point out that a lamb bleats with such a plaintive and wistful tone that it is reminiscent of compassion and pity. 

Compassion/pity in the morning. Compassion/pity in the afternoon.

The deeper meaning of that daily sacrifice is the daily meditation that we implore G-d to have pity on us. 

And that we should have pity on others. 

And ACT on that pity and compassion.

Try it.

Before you pray, says the Torah, give some help to someone in need. 

Then, realize that you should have pity on yourself. Focus on the pitifulness of your state of being. How pathetic it is that your own self-advancement is more important to you than the needs of a fellow. Pity that eating and sleeping come effortlessly, while praying and studying require immense sacrifice. Pity on the colors we are not seeing because of our spiritual color-blindness. 

Not to get depressed G-d forbid, but to realize that we need to take actions to offset what we don’t automatically see. To work harder at making the right life choices and not remain clueless about reality. 

To finish on a practical note:

Having a Tzedaka box in your home, office, car and anywhere else you spend time, and regularly putting money in it for others, is a wonderful way to exercise and build up the muscle of compassion. 

And pray regularly. Prayer is the most effective way of obtaining G-d’s Divine mercy and being granted the gift of a deeper more sublime, more G-dly perspective. This in turn leads you to better choices and more mitzvahs, which leads you to more prayer, more mitzvahs etc etc till Mashiach comes and beyond.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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