The Woodcutter Rabbi, Monday Morning Parable

There was a rabbi, who lived for God for many years.  He worked as both a rabbi and a woodcutter.

One day as he was cutting wood, God appeared to him and said “I am blessed by your work and your dedication to the Torah and you seeking forgiveness for your sins.  I am going to bless you beyond anything you could imagine.  But I request one thing.  Down the road from your house is a boulder, do you remember it? “

The rabbi remembered it well, it weighed several tons.

“I would like you to push on that boulder as hard as you can every morning trying to push it uphill,” said God.

The rabbi thought that was simple enough.  He would obey just because the Holy One commanded, and beyond those rich blessings, it seemed an obvious choice.  Every morning he would go to that boulder and push as hard as he could.  He would push until he was covered with sweat and his whole body ached and then he would go home.  He did that for weeks, months, years.

Then one day the evil one, cursed be he, showed up and said, “Rabbi why do you do that?  You haven’t moved the boulder a millimeter, your whole body aches, and you’re wasting an hour each day of your life.”

The rabbi thought, “He’s right, I haven’t done anything, and I’m not capable of moving that boulder and I’m wasting God’s time.”  So he stopped trying to move the boulder from that day forward.

Some time passed, and one morning the Holy One appeared to the Rabbi and said “Rabbi I miss you every morning by the boulder.”

The rabbi said, “Yes, but I haven’t moved it, and I’m wasting the gift of time that you’ve given me.”

The Holy One said, “Have you looked at yourself, and looked at how strong you’ve become?  You can now carry more wood than any woodcutter, and you can now go to Jerusalem on pilgrimage and climb the highest mountain and not get tired.  How do you think you got that way?”

Then the rabbi realized that obedience always has its own purpose whether one understands it or not.

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