Desert Island Texts: No. 44

Desert Island Texts: No. 44

Desert Island Texts
Desert Island Texts

If you were cast away on an island with just one Jewish text for company, which would you choose?

This week, Ben Rich selects a paragraph from George Elliot’s Middlemarch, which is featured in the Liberal prayer book

There is a meditation before Kaddish in the Liberal weekday and Shabbat prayer book, Siddur Lev Chadash, which draws heavily on the conclusion of George Elliot’s Middlemarch.Desert Island Texts

It reflects: “The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

If I were stranded on a desert island, I can image few more comforting thoughts – should I die there – than my worth would not be measured by the number of those who came to place stones on my grave, but the small things that I had done to improve the lives of friends and family.

Elliot’s text sets me in mind of Martin Buber’s tale of the 18th Century Rabbi Zusya who, before his death, says: “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”

Stranded on a desert island or stuck in Hendon traffic, our obligation is to live our lives to their fullest potential.

That potential may be limited by our abilities or circumstances but, ultimately, we can all still contribute to making a better world if we are simply true to ourselves and always seek to make the most of whatever talents and opportunities God gives us.

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