By Paulo Coelho
A certain Rabbi was adored by the community; everyone was enchanted by what he said.
Except for Isaac, who never missed an opportunity to contradict the Rabbi’s interpretations and point out faults in his teachings. The others were annoyed by Isaac, but could do nothing about it.
One day, Isaac died. During the funeral, the community noticed that the Rabbi was deeply upset.
– Why are you so sad? – someone commented. – He was always criticizing everything you said!
– I am not upset for my friend who is now in heaven – replied the Rabbi – I am upset for my own self. While everyone revered me, he challenged me, and I was obliged to improve. Now he has gone, I am afraid I shall stop growing.
Forgiving in the same spirit
The Rabbi Nahum of Chernobyl was always being insulted by a shopkeeper. One day, the latter’s business began to go badly.
“It must be the Rabbi, who is asking for God’s revenge,” he thought. He went to ask Nahum’s forgiveness.
– I forgive you in the same spirit you ask for forgiveness – replied the Rabbi.
But the man’s losses just kept increasing, until he was reduced to misery. Nahum’s horrified disciples went to ask him what had happened.
– I forgave him, but he continued to hate me deep down in his heart – said the Rabbi – Therefore, his hatred contaminated everything he did, and God’s punishment became more and more severe.
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