“Empty vessels” – that is the secret.

Friday, 26 October, 2018 - 8:45 am

 Installing navigating systems in our cars has proved to me very convenient and beneficial. We can reach places relatively easy, and we save time and trouble. But the best outcome of this is that men can now avoid humiliation when trying to find their way. Why men? Because women have long known of a simple trick: One opens the window and asks some passers-by, “Excuse me, how do I get to…?” But men are not capable of asking; they, after all, know already… But why should I generalize – I’ll speak of myself. I was capable of roaming around for quite a while, depending on my assessment that was based on a rare combination of gut feelings and sense of direction; the main thing was not to ask. And also, what can a man in the street know that I don’t?

The truth is that not only on the road, but in almost every realm of my life I wasn’t really able to consult with others, and even when I did, it came out in the end that I did the talking and the counselor listened. I was full of myself, and had no room to receive from others.

This changed when sometime or other I understood there are, here and there, a few people who are wiser and more experienced than I am. I admit that it was painful to internalize this, but from the moment I did internalize it, I was saved. Because when I internalized, I actually made space inside, and began to really and truly listen – even humbly – to what others had to say. And the truth is that wisdom, good advice, understanding and an abundance of good were around me all the time, and if I hadn’t been so full of myself, I could have benefited from this abundance long ago already.

This week’s haftarah tells the special story of the wife of Ovadiah who comes and pleads with Elisha the Prophet. She needs help and the prophet wants to find out if she is prepared to receive the abundance: Does she have empty vessels or full ones? Because in order to receive, one has to clear some space. When she says she has only one vessel, Elisha says to her: “Go and borrow vessels from outside, from all your neighbors, empty vessels – do not make do with a few,” and then the famous miracle happens – the vessels fill with oil, and selling all that oil provides her with the money she needs to save herself.

When did the miracle end? When did this abundance cease? The moment she had no more empty vessels left – “And when the vessels were full she said to her son: hand me another vessel. He said to her, there is no other vessel. And the oil ceased.”

“Empty vessels” – that is the secret.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

Comments on: “Empty vessels” – that is the secret.
There are no comments.