Thursday, October 25, 2007

Perspective & Story on Laziness Within Industriousness

The Cossack's were known as the paradigmatic "industrious types." They did everything with speed and alacrity. When something needed to get done, they did it fast and well, and no job was too difficult. One rebbe (Request: If anyone out there who this ma'aseh is about, please let me know!) pointed out to his Chassidim that looking up to this mida of industriousness in them is wrongheaded.

He said that when these men retire and receive their pensions from the Tzar, they spent the rest of their days relaxing, drinking tea and vodka beside an oven, to stay warm. And that the entire time they were working so hard, they were really just thinking that they were doing it because one day, they would be able to sit and relax beside that oven until they went into the grave.

There are two types of industrious/hard-working types. One is the type which works hard because they care about what they are actually doing and accomplishing with the work as an end unto its self. But then there are those, like the Cossacks, whose hard work is really just an expression of their laziness.

Some people work hard in college, medical school or law school, in in their business, and then later in their jobs, with only their next vacation or their retirement in mind. This type of hard work is not, then, to be labeled "industrious," or "hard working," but rather "laziness!"

I am very busy, to say the least. I'm up (usually) by 4 AM for a day filled with learning, davening, a full time job, and law school. People who don't walk in my shoes think that I'm a very hard-working, industrious person. However, I know that, לֵב--יוֹדֵעַ" מָרַּת נַפְשׁוֹ" (Mishlei 14:10). I know that I cannot absolve myself of my own penchant for laziness.

I like to think of that ma'aseh when putting hard work in perspective and remembering what it's all for.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture of Cossacks courtesy of

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