Bodhisattva from Belarus


Rabbi Menasheh of Ilya (1767-1831) wrote: “What am I in comparison to the many forms of sentient life in the world? If the Creator were to confer upon me, as well as my family members, loved ones, and relatives, absolute goodness for all eternity, but some deficiency remained in the world – if any living thing still were left suffering, and all the more so, another human being – I would not want anything to do with it, much less to derive benefit from it. How could I be separated from all living creatures? These are the work of God’s hand, and these, too, are the work of God’s hand.”

(Author’s Introduction, Ha’amek She’eilah).

-quoted by Rabbi David Sears in “The Oy Vay School of Buddhism”. Reb Menashe was a famous non-Hasidic Rabbi from the Lithuanian dominated Judaism of Belarus, which is now partly Poland and partly Russia.

Author: Matthew Zachary Gindin

Freelance journalist and teacher. I write regularly for the Forward, All That In Interesting, and the Jewish Independent, and have been published in Religion Dispatches, Situate Magazine, Elephant Journal, and elsewhere.

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