Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ethics of the Fathers Day 1

Susanna Musser's recent post Driven inspired quite a discussion in the comments about how we prioritize needs.  Do we save the child with a better prognosis, or the one who has a foot in the grave already? If we save the latter, might not the former deteriorate and lose his advantage? How do we weigh such things?

When I read this discussion, I was immediately reminded of some verses from Pirkei Avot. Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) is a collection of quotations from the great rabbis at the time of the 2nd Temple period. Jesus was a contemporary of many of them, and was influenced by many others.

From the second chapter of this collection, we learn that, "Rabbi Tarfon would say: The day is short, the work is much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing.  He would also say: It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it."

 Isn't this the whole dilemma?   The day is short, and the work is much, so we cannot finish the task.  Why, then, should we even bother starting? This way of thinking makes us, the workers, lazy.  However, we are not free to absolve ourselves from the task, as the Master is pressing, and ultimately, the reward is great.

I think I will pick a quotation from Pirkei Avot each day from now till Father's Day.
See Day 2 here.

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