Saturday, September 22, 2012

Go About Your Business Like the Lowly Maggot

  A powerful king once gave one of his servants a piece of paper and said to him: "If you ever see me enraged give this to me." Written on it was the following: "You are not God, merely a flesh-and-blood body who will soon return to earth and be consumed by worms."
  HaChassid Yaavetz interprets this description of man's end as a reason why man should be exceedingly humble spirited and suffer insult gracefully. Just as one does not feel insulted by a dog who barks at him, he should never feel too hurt by the disparaging remarks of his fellow man, a temporary creature who eventually will be food for the maggots.
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  A person should measure his own standing against the performance of the lowly maggot. Worms play an important role in the ecology, softening the soil so that roots can spread out, allowing the rain water to reach them, and turning fallen leaves into rich earth which fertilizes the growing plants. Nonetheless, the worm remains silent, never bragging of its importance. Man should measure himself against the worm in trying to assess whether he too goes about his business without fanfare and arrogance.

- Pirkei Avot