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If Not Higher – Four Levels| BBA Notes

If Not Higher – Four Levels

If Not Higher - Four Levels
If Not Higher – Four Levels

I.L. Peretz, Poland (1852-1915)

Summary in English

This legend was from Jews’ religion. According to the story, during penitential prayer the Rabbi of Nemirov was found absent. His absence was more remarkable and noticeable. People believed that Rabbi had much to do in service of human beings. Litvak had doubt. He wanted to find out the reality so he did himself under the cot in Rabbi’s hut. At night Rabbi groaned in agony.

There could be seen sores in his body. Litvak surprised. After sometimes Rabbi prepared to go out. He took an axe and roped and went towards the jungle. Litvak was also following him. When Rabbi reached in the jungle, Rabbi started to make firewood. Then making bundle of firewood, he gave the firewood to an old sick woman and helped to light fire and started reciting penitential prayers. Litvak realized the true service of the Rabbi.

In this way being absent from the prayers, he used to help poor people. He was sure now that the Rabbi was like their teacher Moses. Litvak, who was watching all the activities of rabbi, became his deisiple because he kenw that Rabbi ascended up to the steps of heaven where Moses was left suspended if not higher.

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Four Levels of Interaction with the Text

Literal Comprehension

The story was written by Polish writer. I.L. Pertz. In this story, he describes the humanistic service of Rabbi of Nemirov. This legend was from Jews’ religion. According to the story, during penitential prayer the Rabbi of Nemirov was found absent. His absence was more remarkable and noticeable. People believed that Rabbi had much to do in service of human beings. A Litvak had doubt. He wanted to find out the reality so he did himself under the cot in Rabbi’s hut. At night Rabbi groaned in agony. There could be seen sores in his body.

The Litvak surprised. After sometimes rabbi prepared to go out. He took an axe and rope and went towards the jungle. Litvak was also following him. When rabbi reached in the jungle, Rabbi started to make firewood. Then making bundle of firewood, he gave the firewood to an old sick woman and helped to light fire and started reciting penitential prayers.

The Litvak realized the true service of the Rabbi. In this way being absent from the prayers, he used to help poor people. He was sure now that the rabbi was like their teacher Moses. Litvak, who was watching all the activities of Rabbi, became his disciple because he knew that Rabbi ascended up to the steps of heaven where Moses was left suspended if not higher.

Interpretation

The legend is religious in theme as well as moral in meaning. He says that true worship to God is by serving the poor creatures. It is better than going to pray God in the traditional way. God loves him or her who loves fellow people. As the Rabbi helped the old widow woman bringing her firewood from the jungle, we should help the poor, helpless, needy, old and diseased is the best service to get salvation (escape).

Critical Thinking

The Litvak was very skeptical in his thinking because the Rabbi always escaped from the penitential prayers. People had different opinions about the rabbi. But I don’t think God can be obtained by going to temples. I think God can be obtained by helping and poor helpless people; God doesn’t want admiration or praise. we should have feeling of humanity. The Rabbi believed on that truth. He was crying in agony of others. He was cutting wood for helpless widow. So, he was in the service of mankind rather than going to penitential prayer.

Assimilation

When I read this story I remembered late poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s poem ‘Yattri’. In this poem he also suggested us that there is no need to go to temples, churches, mosques to pray God. He says that God can be found in the service of poor, helpless people. He advises us to massage the sores of poor people.

Important Questions of If Not Higher

a. Why did the Litvak believe that his Guru, Rabbi will get a good place in heaven?

b. What is its moral message for us?

c. Summarize the text If Not Higher.

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