Sunday, August 07, 2011


In 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept' the seminarian chooses to give his gift of healing and miracle-working back to the Virgin Mary.
    "So yesterday, I asked a miracle of the Virgin," he continued. "I asked that She take away my gift."

    "And just as I was asking that the Virgin take away my gift, I began to speak in tongues," he went on. "The tongues told me, "Place your hands on the earth. Your gift will leave you and return to the Mother's breast."

    "Yes. I did as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit bade. The fog lifted, and the sun shone on the mountains. I felt that the Virgin understood- because She had also loved so greatly."
I was thinking about this idea within the context of Judaism. Would it be permitted?

On the one hand, there is the idea in the Talmud that the rabbis could say, "I do not want this suffering and I do not want its rewards," which allowed them to relieve their pain.

But it seems to work differently when one wants to surrender one's gift. God eases the burden but does not take it entirely away.

1) Moses
יד לֹא-אוּכַל אָנֹכִי לְבַדִּי, לָשֵׂאת אֶת-כָּל-הָעָם הַזֶּה: כִּי כָבֵד, מִמֶּנִּי.14 I am not able to bear all this people myself alone, because it is too heavy for me.
טו וְאִם-כָּכָה אַתְּ-עֹשֶׂה לִּי, הָרְגֵנִי נָא הָרֹג--אִם-מָצָאתִי חֵן, בְּעֵינֶיךָ; וְאַל-אֶרְאֶה, בְּרָעָתִי. {פ}15 And if Thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray Thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in Thy sight; and let me not look upon my wretchedness.'
God does spreads Moses' spirit amidst 70 men, but he does not simply take away his gift entirely. He does not tell him he can retire as leader now.

2) Elijah

ד וְהוּא-הָלַךְ בַּמִּדְבָּר, דֶּרֶךְ יוֹם, וַיָּבֹא, וַיֵּשֶׁב תַּחַת רֹתֶם אחת (אֶחָד); וַיִּשְׁאַל אֶת-נַפְשׁוֹ, לָמוּת, וַיֹּאמֶר רַב עַתָּה יְהוָה קַח נַפְשִׁי, כִּי-לֹא-טוֹב אָנֹכִי מֵאֲבֹתָי.4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom-tree; and he requested for himself that he might die; and said: 'It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.'
Elijah is told he may appoint Elisha in his place, but not until he finishes his tasks (he must annoint Hazael and Jehu).

So God has mercy and also compassion, but He does not heed entirely. Once chosen, always chosen. The gift must run its course.


Heshy said...

This reminded me of an article I read byRabbi Sacks.

Certain gifts require leadership/responsibilities. But leaders usually suffer. They have no right to give back/get rid of what God gave them.

Pirkei Avos Chapter 4:

against your will you were created, against your will you were born; against your will you live; against your will you die, and against your will you are destined to give an account before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Tzipporah said...


Yedid Nefesh said...

have you ever learned Eicha?

Chana said...

Thanks, Tzipporah!

Yedid Nefesh, yup, I have. I also learned Midrash Rabbah to Eicha.

The Talmid said...

not exactly what you're talking about - spiritual gifts - but I think the Gemara Chagiga says that R' Chanina Ben Dosa's wife was uspet at their poverty and they miraculously received a goden pillar, then R' Chanina had a dream that in Gan Eden everyone had a table with 4 legs and his only had 3, so he davened that the golden piece be taken away and so it was.

Yedid Nefesh said...

hmm I think i meant Iyov