I was talking with my boss today and he happened to tell me about a philosophical idea that I had never heard of. In Judaism, he related, there is an idea that the good works that get you into heaven are not the grand gestures that we typically associate with charity, but small moments of annoyance whereby we give someone else some pleasure. As an example, he offered the scenario of listening without interruption to someone that you find boring. After my initial suspicion that he might be subtly hinting at the stores in heaven that he had accumulated in the course of our conversation, I realized that this was a truly beautiful and elegant concept.
Because of the principle of risk vis a vis reward, great tribulation and sacrifice necessarily incur a greater likelihood of earthly reward. Those who donate a substantial sum to a charity are likely to receive immense social benefits. But to endure an annoyance where there is no benefit is a genuine indicator of strength and lack of moral turpitude.
Though I believe not in heaven nor hell nor grand judgment, I am moved by this philosophy to try to work through life’s annoyances with grace and humility. For just as the annoyances ostensibly offer the greatest personal reward, so too can they eat away at us and cause the greatest personal emotional destruction. So take this and be refreshed with a sense of perspective. We could all stand to relax and not sweat the small stuff.
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