By Laura Seymour
I love books, and even more, I love stories.
Our ancient sages knew that if a lesson needed to be learned, there was no better way than with a story. There are stories that are timeless that come from different traditions that teach Jewish lessons.
Today while reading an article from ejewishphilanthropy.com in a comment on sacred partnerships, there was a wonderful story that, although not Jewish, definitely teaches us Jewish values. Here it is:
There once was an elderly Chinese woman who had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot seemed perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it could only do half of what it thought it should be doing.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your crack, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are there would not be this beauty to grace my house.”
We teach our children and must remember for ourselves as well, that each individual is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image. In truth, the elderly Chinese woman had two perfect pots, and each one served an important purpose. Let us celebrate our unique gifts and remember to treat each person with kavod, respect.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.