Happy Holidays 2015! May we all know which call to respond to when the timing is right.
The following story is from Soul Prints by Dr. Marc Gafni:
One of the overwhelming reasons that responding to a call is such a high-stakes proposition is that you cannot respond to every call you hear. William James wrote that he would like to be “…a great athlete, and make a million a year, be a wit, a bon-vivant, and a lady-killer, as well as a philosopher; a philanthropist, statesman, warrior, and African explorer, as well as a ‘tone poet’ and saint. But the thing is simply impossible… Such different characters may conceivably at the outset of life be alike possible to a man. But to make any one of them actual, the rest must more or less be suppressed. So the seeker of his truest, strongest, deepest self must review the list carefully, and pick out the one on which to stake his salvation. All other selves thereupon become unreal…”
We cannot respond fully to more than one call, for fulfilling our One will complete our All-One-Ness.
David from Liluv cherished his yearly pilgrimage to pray in the court of his master for the high holy days. He journeyed a great distance and the pilgrimage was arduous, sometimes dangerous, but he always came. One particular year, his wagon broke down not once but twice and heavy rains slowed the way. Obstacle after obstacle kept him lagging, until the final day was on the verge of falling into the sacredness of the holiday night.
Finally, David could see the miniscule silhouette of his master’s shtetl in the distance. Yet on the horizon he also sees a figure on the road, running towards him. The man reaches him, calling out with heaving breath, “Thank God you are here! I knew someone would come. Sir, please stop, I have a dire request of you. We have only nine men in our town and as you know, we require ten people to form a quorum which will allow us to recite the public prayer, to read from the Torah, and to say the Kaddish on this holiday. With less than ten, sir, as you know, we will be unable to do any of these things. The tenth person in our town just this morning passed away.” The man gasped with urgency. “We have only nine people! Please, sir, wont you please stay with us this holiday and be the tenth?”
Although David was moved by the request, he replied, “I’m sorry, but you will have to pray privately this holiday. You see, I have traveled very far to come to my master for the holiday prayers. I have waited all year to see him, and our meeting is a great spiritual moment. I cannot miss it.”
David of Liluv went on, forgetting the brief encounter with the man in the road, until he arrived at his master’s house just in time for the evening prayers. But strangely enough, his master refused to greet him. All through the holiday, his master averted his gaze from David, speaking not a word to him.
David of Liluv was devastated. What had he done to deserve this treatment from his master? He could not imagine. At the end of the holiday, his master calls him for a private audience. “What did I do?” David asked him. “What sin could I have committed to possibly earn such displeasure from my master?”
His teacher looked at him, pale with disappointment, and said sadly, “David, my sweet David, what a mistake you have made. Your soul came to this world in order for you to be the tenth person to pray in that little town along the road. Only you could have been that tenth person. And you, so intent on your own spiritual goals, failed to respond to your soul’s callings.”