Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Value of Productivity

The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to tell a story:

A nobleman who enjoyed the aesthetics of life hired a farmer to stand inside his castle and move back and forth with a hand pick, just as he would do in the field. The nobleman took great pleasure in the simple elegance of the farmer's sway, and he paid the farmer well for his "work." Still, after entertaining the nobleman for several days, the farmer refused to continue. "But I pay you generously," said the surprised nobleman, many times more than you would make by working in the field. And you don't have to exert yourself nearly as much." 
"You don't seem to understand," the farmer replied. "I cannot continue doing something - even if it takes no toil and effort - that doesn't produce. I would rather work much harder and be productive than be paid well to do something that bears no fruit. 
- Toward a Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe, p94-95 
The author goes on to give the Rebbe's explanation of this story (my paraphrasing/understanding): Our body and soul are different (obviously). The body becomes tired and needs to be refueled. The soul doesn't tire when you are doing the right things. It has virtually unlimited energy. Ideally, body and soul stay in balance, each taking care of the other.

Each day, you should ask, "Am I using all of my G-d given resources and abilities to produce more than was given to me?" This is taking the idea of "profit" to a global scale. It means taking your resources and abilities and creating something bigger. It means giving your majority stockholder, Hashem, a good return on his investment. (That last sentence is my addition.)

And this is precisely why unemployment doesn't agree with me. It's why my mind feels like it's running on overdrive while my body can be so tired. Thank you, Rebbe. I needed that insight. But until I can feel productive, I don't anticipate a change. (I'd love to volunteer, but I am hesitant to commit to anything when my schedule could -and hopefully will - change dramatically at any minute.)

End rant.

1 comment:

  1. SouthernBelleR:
    There are one-time and irregular volunteer opportunities available for folks that can't commit to a long term opportunity. Sometimes the local JCC needs someone to fill in last minute. I know Masbia food kitchen is one organization that happily works with people in just about any availability even if just once.