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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Don't settle for bran!

Daf Yomi Bava Metzia 118

Zemira, the daughter of Yonadav, was a righteous maiden, who would go each day to pray at the grave of her mother.  One day, she hears footsteps and suddenly a man with long hair appears before her.
“Quickly, hide me, for the wicked King Herod seeks to kill all the nazirites!” She dutifully assists him. 

A few months later, Zemira’s father hears that the righteous Avinadav ben Uziel has sought her hand in marriage.  What a surprise she receives when she finds out that the young man she had rescued was none other than Avinadav!  But alas, exactly one year later, as they are sitting having supper, the door comes crashing down and the king’s men are there to arrest the groom.  They cart him off in chains.

Zemira is determined to do whatever she can to find her husband.  And so off she travels to Jerusalem.  After endless dead-ends, she finally discovers his prison cell and immediately tells him she will do whatever she can to have his poor, innocent soul released.  Unable to control his weeping, however, he tells her the truth. 

“I am not Avinadav, I am an impostor who deserves to be here.  I have brought everlasting disgrace upon you and your family.  Now leave me here to die alone.”
“Never!” says Zemira. “You might have been bad in the past.  But the past is the past.  I know you are a righteous man.  I watched you use your resources to help many people and free many slaves!  But pray tell, how did you get into this mess?”

Utterly distraught, the man begins to tell his story.  His mother died when he was a young boy.  As she lay on her deathbed, she made her husband swear that his foremost priority in life would be their child.  But sadly, within weeks of her passing, he remarried and began to neglect his son.  It didn’t help that the step-mother didn’t want the child around and managed to convince her husband to reject him from the house.  Soon, he found friendships in the wrong part of town.  As he mixed with bad people, slowly he became like them, until he was finally one of the most-wanted highwaymen in the region.
“When I heard that Avinadav was en route to marry you, I ambushed him and sold him into slavery,” concluded the imprisoned man, “I then substituted myself, Raamiah, in his stead.” 

Zemira turns her eyes to Hashem and lets out a huge shriek.  Suddenly, Heavens and Earth shake together, causing a great earthquake.  Zemira grabs Raamiah by the hand and they run far away.  They search day and night for Avinadav and his father Uziel, to no avail. 

One day, they chance upon a landowner who welcomes them with open arms.  Explaining to their bewilderment that he was formerly a slave who had been freed by them, he offers to do anything to help.  They tell him of their mission to find Avinadav and Uziel.  Lo and behold, the landowner has some farm-help that knows where they are to be found. 

Wasting no time, they locate the father and son and offer to redeem them from captivity.  With insufficient funds to do so, Raamiah immediately sells himself into twelve months of slavery to complete the payment.  When he finally goes free, he finds that he has inherited a small fortune which he hands over to the real Avinadav.  Raamiah and Zemira go on to live a life of righteousness together.  (Goldin: The Book of Legends 3:112)

Mishnah: One who hires a worker to gather processed or raw straw, who then says, “Give me my wages,” and he responds, “Take some of the straw you gathered as payment,” we do not allow this.
Gemara: Why is it necessary for the Mishnah to teach this law?  Since the worker has payment due him, we might assume he would accept anything, as they say, “From one who owes you a debt, accept even bran as payment!”

Often in life we are so desperate for something that we are willing to settle for whatever comes along.  We know we deserve more but we just need to have our needs fulfilled right now.  And so we make choices out of desperation that are not good for our true physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

Maybe it’s a relationship.  You’re so desperate to climb out of singlehood that you’re willing to pair up with the first person that expresses an interest in you, even though you know that person is not a great fit.  After losing his wife, Raamiah’s father wanted so much to remarry that he found someone that refused to accept his son.   Had he waited for a righteous woman, his son would have lived a complete life of righteousness.

Maybe it’s a job.  You’re so desperate to get out of your current situation that you’ll take anything that comes along.  Perhaps you can’t stand your current boss.  Perhaps the bills are getting out of hand.  And so you settle on a position way below your qualifications and expertise. 

You are awesome!  The Almighty has an incredible destiny lined up for you!  With a little patience, you will receive unbelievable relationship blessings, unbelievable career blessings!  His bounty is just around the corner.  Don’t accept the bran as payment!

That doesn’t mean, of course, that you need to have unreasonable expectations.  If we wait for absolute perfection, whether the perfect job or the perfect relationship, we’ll be waiting forever.  Because nothing and nobody in this universe is perfect. Only the Rock, Hashem, is perfect in all His ways.  Our mission is to make this world a better place and help it towards perfection.  But we’re not there yet.  Find someone or something that is a pretty good fit and then work on yourself to make it a perfect fit!

Don’t settle for bran.  You are a child of the King of Kings, which makes you a prince or a princess.  May you discover the near-perfect bounty the Almighty has prepared for you very quickly!

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