None of My Business???

A Life Lessons Story by Chana-Klein

Can my friend have a problem that does not affect me?
Can I avoid being touched by my enemy’s difficulty?
Isn’t it all none of my business?

A Chana Parable

A field mouse moved into the home of old Farmer Mike and his wife Lucy. The mouse watched from his place under the stove as Mike and Lucy were ripping open a box that had been delivered by the postman. “What could be in such a package?” the mouse wondered, as he waited to see what new foods the box might contain.

As the farmer and his wife took the contents of the package out of the box, the mouse stifled his words “Oh my Lord,” and his scream so as not to be heard. Out of the box they revealed a mousetrap!

The mouse ran outside, all over the farmyard. He warned each of the creatures proclaiming, “There is a mousetrap in the house. There’s a mousetrap in the house.”

The chicken was the first to respond. She raised her head as she clucked and scratched. “Mr. Mouse,” she told him, “I can tell this is of grave concern to you. But it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by this problem.”

Next, the mouse appealed to the pig. “There’s a mousetrap in the house!” he cried to him, “There’s a mousetrap in the house.”

The pig sympathized with the mouse. “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse. But there is nothing I can do about it, other than pray. Rest assured that you will be in my prayers.”

The mouse then called to the cow. The cow replied, “Like wow, Mr. Mouse, a mousetrap. Why would that bother me? Am I in grave danger or something? Duh! I’m a cow.”

A few more animals, a few more pleas.
But no one heard or cared or even wanted to help. The mouse returned to the house, frozen with fear, shoulders bent down, and a very sad expression. He went to face the farmer’s mousetrap all alone.

That very night a loud sound was heard throughout the house. It was like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

Lucy, the farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. It was so dark that she could hardly see. She got closer. Snap! Ouch! Poor Lucy got bitten by a snake, whose tail was caught in the trap.

She had not realized it was a snake until it was too late. She was already poisoned. Farmer Mike rushed Lucy to the hospital.

He brought her home, even though she still had a fever. Everyone, Jews and people who are not Jewish, all know that the best cure for everything, especially a fever, is chicken soup. So, Farmer Mike had no choice but to take his hatchet to the farmyard to obtain the soup’s main ingredient.

Lucy ate some of the soup. But she was too sick to eat very much of it. Her sickness continued. Good friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. Farmer Mike had to feed them. But with what? The farmer had to butcher the pig to feed the people who visited Lucy.

Mrs. Lucy, the farmer’s wife, still did not get well. In fact, she died. So many people came for her funeral that Mike, the farmer had to slaughter the cow in order to provide meat for all of them to eat.

Just think what would have happened in the first place had the chicken, the pig, the cow, and other animals reached out to help the mouse to avoid getting trapped.

Was the mouse’s problem really not going to affect anyone but that mouse?

Isn’t it true that when the least of us is threatened, we are all at risk?

My story

The Tulips
I am eight years old and I see beautiful, tall tulips growing on the side of a house on our block. I do not realize that they are the pride of the woman who planted them. I have zero awareness of the fact that they belong to anyone but G-d. I look at how pretty they are and I pick them and give them to my mother to show her I love her, and probably to get her to love me.

While in my room, both my mother and father come at me with great anger and beat me and beat me. They say because I picked the flowers. I did not know that it was wrong. I had no idea. No one ever explained.

As an adult, I look back and feel so badly for the lady whose flowers I took. But as a child, how could I know that?

Everyone Hears
Other times, I am beaten. I scrunch up my body with my arms over my face and my knees against my stomach, so that the blows cannot reach me.
I am screaming as loudly as I can.
Kicks, strap, fists, all at me. Broken bones, strap marks on my body, hurt feelings.
Screams and more screams.

All of the neighbors hear. They hear me screaming.
Everyone knows.
No one helps.
No-one questions what is happening to me, a little girl in that house.
No one protects me.
People think it is none of their business.
I go to Dr. Brandstein, whose office is on the next block.
He tells me I need to see an orthopedic doctor who can fix my broken bones.
How can I go? I don’t know how.
I hurt and eventually the pain is less.

Was I really no one else’s problem? Was I really none of their business?

How different are these stories from the reasons the Jews lost our second temple?
There was a wedding.
Someone got hurt.
Someone was shamed, thrown out.
No one spoke up.
It was as if the people who heard Bar Kamtza being publicly humiliated were accustomed to hearing people being treated like that.

The Gomorrah (Gittin 56a) tells us that even the sages heard the mistreatment and did nothing. No one was shocked.
But, they should have been.
And, of course, it was none of their business.

What do we do today when we hear a person cry? When we see a person hurt?
When we feel a person’s need?
What if it is a person we deem not very important?
Do we hear beyond the words?
Can we see beyond the smile?
Do we care enough to really listen?
Do we make sure that each troubled person sees that s/he is not facing their worry alone?

May we correct this belief, that goes at least as far back as the Temple, that “it is none of my business.”
May we correct it in our time.

May we be open to hearing the screams of little children, and the screams of our neighbor, and even, and especially, the silent screams.
May we rush to their aid and kiss their boo boos.
May we get involved, knowing that we make a difference.

Copyright ©Chana Klein 2015


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