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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, March 15, 2004

Rabbis and Princes

I have a lot of thoughts being churned about in my head at the moment - it was an incredibly full weekend, and I didn't get nearly enough done. I am amazed at how much school work I did in one day, without managing to fully complete anything I set out to accomplish. I finished reading One People: Two Worlds this weekend. I am still thinking a lot about the arguments of the authors. The truth is, I liked a lot of what each of them said, and didn't like a lot of what each of them said. The biggest problem I had with both of them is that they each had their own agenda - and they were clearly different agendas - and neither one of them really listened to each other's arguments, they just kind of argued around each other. I didn't find either side to be terribly grounded, and I think both of the authors left the book with a respect for the other author (which is great), but little respect for each other's viewpoints. I felt each author was wearing glasses to both put a rose-colored spin on their own view and to shield themselves from clearly understanding and seeing the opposing view. I guess for me, someone who has lived in both of their worlds, it was a bit frustrating to read them dance around each other without really coming together at any point. But I did find the book very interesting and thought-provoking, and I really enjoyed the section where they discussed Israel. I started reading The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain this weekend. I am really enjoying it. It is the story of a prince and a pauper (obviously) whose lives get switched (it reminds me of The Parent Trap). What I find so interesting is that each boy has desired to live in the other's world, but when they get there the descriptions of those contrasting worlds is so negative. For the pauper, when confronted with life in the palace, he says "he was indeed a captive now and might remain ever shut up in this gilded cage, a forlorn a friendless prince; except G-d in his mercy take pity on him and set him free." This is a boy who dreamed of living the life of royalty. The prince, when faced with living a normal life describes his new life as "an outcast, clothed in rags, prisoner in a den fit only for beasts, and consorting with beggars and thieves." This is a prince who ran out of the castle the minute he had the chance. How interesting that each initially felt that they were trapped in their own lives, and longed to be set free. Yet when they are actually faced with those desired lives, they see them as a greater cage than the lives they were born into! I think many of us long for a life that we don't currently have, but if we were placed into it, we may soon realize how lucky we truly are for what we do have. I guess that is why Pirkei Avos (4:1) says, "Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot." Finally, I was given a situation to think about this weekend that is the kind of situation that had faced me in the past, and it was something that I had thought I wouldn't be faced with again. The implications, though different, are oddly similar. It is interesting how your life can change, but not really.

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