Only Passing Through

The Fellowship  |  January 2, 2020

Open road

 “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.’” — Leviticus 25:23

As we begin a new year and a new decade, let the pursuit of wisdom be one of our top goals. Enjoy this collection of devotions on wisdom throughout the month from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s timeless teachings.

As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this month, download our complimentary booklet on the historic and spiritual bond between the Jewish and African-American communities.

Once there were two wealthy Jewish businessmen who lived in Eastern Europe. Both men were involved in real estate and often did business together. One day, the two friends got into a dispute about a small piece of land. Each one claimed to be the owner. Over time, the argument grew into a full-out war. Even though the piece of land in question was practically insignificant in context of what each man already owned, neither would budge. The two men became bitter enemies.

Eventually, at the insistence of community members, the men agreed to see the local rabbi and let him resolve the dispute. The rabbi listened patiently as each man presented his case. After they were finished speaking, the rabbi asked if he could go and see the land in question. The two men escorted the rabbi to the small piece of land that had caused them both so much anguish.

When they arrived at the site, the rabbi declared that he could not figure out which man was the rightful owner. “Do you mind if I ask the land?” the rabbi requested. The two businessmen were bewildered at this strange request, but for lack of anything else to say, they agreed. The rabbi pressed his ear to the ground as though he were listening. Then he stood up and nodded knowingly.

“The land has resolved this issue for us,” the rabbi explained triumphantly. Each man was eager to hear the verdict. “The land told me,” said the rabbi, “that you think it belongs to you and you think it belongs to you. The truth of the matter is, however, that one day soon, both of you will actually belong to it!”

Perspective is everything.

In our verse today, God declares, “the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” We are only visitors passing through God’s world for a limited period of time. We get so caught up in issues that won’t really matter in the long run, and all too often, we sacrifice those things that really are important. The only things that matter in life are not things at all. Friendship is more important than land, our loved ones are more important than our work, and serving God is more precious than anything in the world.

In Psalm 90:12 is it written: Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Knowing that our days are numbered gives us wisdom for living. Today, when something bothers you, ask yourself: Will this matter in five years? 15? 50? If not, let it go . . . and embrace those things that will.

Download your complimentary copy of our booklet, On the Frontlines of Faith, which explores the historic and spiritual bond between the African-American and Jewish communities during the civil rights movement.