As A Driven Leaf

Posted: 06/16/2010 in Uncategorized

I just got done reading As A Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg, and since I couldn’t put it down, it took me only three short days. The pace was fast, and very interesting. From the beginning, it held my interest, and I had to rip off huge chunks of it to satisfy my curiosity. I mean, the last 100 pages I could not stop until I knew how it ended, even though I had a good Idea what happened. The story telling was superb, and as all good books do, it has had an effect on me. Allow me to explain how:
With out being a spoiler, the journey through life that the central character, Elisha ben Abuyah, goes through draws a few parallels in my own life. A few of the struggles I have in my own mind, I saw mirrored in the pages of this book about a man who struggled about everything from his marriage, to his faith, to his life in general.
A certain part of the book hit me so hard, I had to fold the corner of the page so that when I was finished, I could go back and read it one more time. It goes like this:

Consider the earth which I have created to sustain you. Has it ever varied in its character? Hast thou ever planted wheat and harvested barley, or planted barley and harvested wheat? Now consider yourselves whom I have created to serve me. In all the wide world it is only you who do not know your law, even as it is written, ‘The ox knoweth his master and the ass his owners crib. Israel doth not know, my people doth not understand.’ ”
If only man, Elisha brooded, could know his law as the stars knew theirs. If only he could move unswervingly along a course charted for him as they followed their destiny so that all things might be at peace in God.

I really had never occurred to me, that of all of Gods creations, we humans are the only things that go against the will of He who created us. The trees grow as they were created to, a cow wanders the pasture, eating, perfectly content with its life. And the cow should be, it is doing everything, as it was created to do. The fish that swims up stream to spawn, does not do so out of some sexual lust, but because that is what he was created to do. The mother birds build modest nests, just adequate enough to house her young, with no intent on causing envy to fall upon a fellow bird. It is nature, which all animals follow instincts in harmony, and an earth that ebbs and flows perfectly, that is perfect in its obedience to God.
Why have we been, sometimes I think cursed, created so that we have to struggle to obey? What is it exactly that we are supposed to obey? Why do all my selfish instincts fly in the face of my purpose for being here? After all, unless one is blind, you have to admit that as humans, we are ruining this earth, not living in harmony with nature. We brutally kill each other, rape the earth of minerals, poision the air and water, and all the while blind to the fact that we are vastly different from every other living being. To live in harmony, would be for us to live on what we could to just get by, like the cow in the field. No, that is not how we live, we must have more, not in order to live, but in order to satisfy our own selves. I am no less guilty than anyone else, I pray often to have these urges expunged from my mind, and I long for the day when we no longer have those destructive urges. I just never realized how unique our lawlessness was until I read that.

The whole book made me think of life, faith, and my self very differently. Through the struggles of this man, I have learned a bit more on how to put my own struggles into perspective. I would hope that if you read this book, much the same would happen to you too.

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