Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Workaholic and the Couch Potato

Who is worse -- a workaholic who spends incredible amounts of time and energy on pursuing financial success or a couch potato (loosely speaking) who is lazy and seeks a life of leisure?

R. Yehuda Amital (Jewish Values in a Changing World, pp. 110-112) quotes R. Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin who answers this question based on Isaiah 27:13:

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So it shall be in that day: The great shofar will be blown; They will come, who are lost in the land of Assyria, And they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, And shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
The "lost in the land of Assyria" are, according to R. Tzadok, are those who immerse themselves in "constant striving in worldly matters, e.g., amassing wealth and [satisfying] other desires, pursuing positions of authority and honor, strife and jealousy" to the point that they are so busy and anxious that they have little room for God in their lives. Such people need a a great shofar blast to wake them out of their misguided lives.

The "outcasts in Egypt" are "those lazy people who are immersed in imagined emptiness, nothingness and vanity." They will return after those lost in Assyria because they have descended to a lower level.

At least the workaholic is focused on something. All he needs to do is to change his focus from the worldly to the spiritual. The lazy person has to learn an entirely new attitude to life, how to strive for anything at all.

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