The Lamp

For 50 years Valley Beth Shalom, has collected poetry, stories and meditations to celebrate the High Holidays. This year I’m posting daily some of the best from the archive.

Once there was a young man who left his father’s house and traveled to a distant country where he stayed many years, studied all the branches of science, and then returned to his father’s home a learned craftsman.

“What did you learn while you were away, dear son?”

“I learned to make a beautiful lamp that could give light to a whole big room. I beg you, father, to gather all the artisans and artists of this land so they can see my work.”

And so he did. The father called the best-known people in that land to evaluate his son’s piece of work.

When they were all gathered, the son presented his fine lamp. Several expressions revealed that they did not like the lamp.

The father asked for their opinions. One after the other they assured him that the lamp was full of flaws.
After they left, the father asked his son angrily:

“My son, what wisdom have you gained if nobody likes your lamp?”

His son answered, “That is precisely the wisdom I have learned. I included in the lamp all the mistakes usually made by those working on this kind of art. It happens that an artisan takes care of one part of his work, but neglects others. What did I do? I gathered in the lamp everybody’s flaws. And this was the intention: that everybody saw this and discovered their personal flaws.”

And the Rabbi said: “We are not always capable of reaching perfection, but by being aware of our flaws we can little by little go up to perfection.”

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