There was once a cow that belonged to a very wealthy man. And she was quite a privileged cow. Every evening, after the family had had their dinner, the maid would take the leftover scraps of meat and bring them to her. The cow would eagerly look forward to receiving what was, essentially, garbage.
One day, a new maid was hired. Overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks assigned to her, she mistakenly threw out the remains of dinner – and the poor cow went hungry. When night fell, and the cow realized that no meat would be coming, she thought to herself, “What happened?” Eventually, she came to the bitter conclusion: “That food must have been so tasty that the maid ate it herself!”
That’s called thinking like a cow. And don’t laugh; many of us do exactly that. As we go through life, we get so caught up in the rat race that we forget that there is something above it all.
I will never forget the time that I approached a businessman, offering him the opportunity to lay Tefillin. “What’s the catch?” he snapped, holding onto his wallet for dear life. “Catch?” I wondered. I only wanted to help him do a mitzvah!
This is the tragedy that befell the Jewish people as well, after years of slavery in Egypt. Life was, well, not life. They were oppressed and tortured, forced to do back-breaking labor and completely at the mercy of their cruel taskmasters. Yet when Moses came to them with the news of their impending redemption, they pushed him away! “Life’s good here,” they said. “We know from whence our next meal will arrive; we have steady jobs. What could be better? We have no need for redemption.” Now, talk about cow brains!
We have been in exile for even longer than they. It is so easy to get caught up in the mindset of the world around us, thinking, like the cow, that this is all there is to life. Don’t make that same mistake. Lift your face off the ground and look upward. Remember that this is not your place, and let your dreams take you to the real world–the one where people act like human beings, where honesty, trust, and spirituality are by-words. Where there are better things in life than leftover scraps of meat.
Embrace that dream. Pursue it. Demand the Ultimate Redemption. You’ll get it.