Short Story: "Interview with elohim"
Updated: Apr 9, 2018
A friend shared this story with me—it’s hard to believe—almost 10 years ago.
In 2008, I was rosh machaneh, or “head of camp,” at Habonim Dror Camp Moshava in Street, Maryland—where I had grown up each summer since 1993. On Friday evenings, the entire camp gathered round the flagpole in their finest camp clothes. We raised the Israeli flag, sang Ha’Tikvah, and then walked to the “Nof Spot,” an expansive view overlooking the sprawling verdant countryside as the sun cast us in its golden-hour glow. There, that summer’s “rosh mosh” would tell a story to frame the week and welcome Shabbat. Leading up to the very first Friday that summer, our camp’s shaliach, or Israeli emissary, told me this story.
Since then, I’ve carried it with me, returning to and reflecting on the story’s very last line: “Remember, people will forget the things you said in life, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Whenever I engage a group of learners or develop content to do so, I want them to feel grounded, mindful, curious, and open-minded about themselves, each other, and the world. I strive to live up to this value as a Jewish educator; yet sometimes I fall short. And when I reflect on these occasions, I often find this critical ingredient missing. Without it, my high-minded educational outcomes go right out the window. Without a personal bond and shared foundation on which to stand, learners are less likely to see themselves as part of the story I hope we'll explore. This trust hinges on such a fragile, fleeting point, it’s easy to miss the mark. Bombarded by social stimuli, overloaded schedules, and stress about their futures, sometimes the most important educative goal is to model how to be present and help students strengthen their capacity to do the same.
How do you want your learners to feel? What strategies and tactics do you use to accomplish this?
Enjoy the story and Shabbat Shalom!
"An Interview With Elohim"
One night I dreamt I won an interview with Elohim.
“Come here,” said Elohim. “Would you like an interview with me?”
“Only if you have the time,” I said.
Elohim smiled and replied, “My time is infinite, and I can accomplish anything.”
“My son, what is it you would like to ask?”
“What surprises you most about the human race?”
Elohim chuckled and answered, “What is most surprising about the human race is they become bored with childhood, wanting to grow up, and, yet, they spend the rest of their lives longing for this very childhood.
“That they lose their health to accumulate wealth and waste this wealth to re-acquire health.
“That they think anxiously of the future, forgetting the present, living in neither and stranded in between.
“They live as if they never die and die as if they never lived.”
And Elohim looked at me. And we were silent for a while.
As a parent, I asked, “What lesson would you give to your children?”
Again, Elohim answered with a smile:
“To learn that the highest value in life is not what you have but whom you have. To learn that it is a bad practice to compare yourself to others. To learn you must stay true to yourself. To learn that a rich person is not one who accumulates wealth but one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a couple seconds to wound those you love most, and it takes years to heal. To learn to forgive by practicing the act of forgiveness. To learn there are those who love you very much but may not know how to express their feelings. To learn that money can buy anything except happiness or love. To learn that a true friend is someone who knows all your faults and loves you still. To learn that it is not enough for others to forgive you but that you must forgive yourself.
To learn that you can’t force someone to love you but you can allow yourself to be loved.”
“And one last piece of advice before ending,” said Elohim.
“Remember, people will forget the things you said in life, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”