Rabbi Mendel Futerfas spent many years in a Siberian gulag. One of his fellow prisoners was a tightrope walker.
The rabbi asked the tightrope walker, "What is the secret to your art? What does one need to master? Balance? Stamina? Concentration?"
The tightrope walker's answer surprised him
"The secret is always keeping your destination in focus. You have to keep your eyes on the other end of the rope, and how you get there is a straight line, never wavering. But do you know what the hardest part is?"
"When you get to the middle?" the rabbi ventured.
"No," said the tightrope walker. "It's when you make the turn. Because for a fraction if a second, you lose sight of your destination. When you don't have sight of your destination, that is when you are most likely to fall."
Nuri Bey was a reflective and respected Albanian, who had married a wife much younger than himself. One evening when he had returned home earlier than usual, a faithful servant came to him and said:
"Your wife, is acting suspiciously. She is in her apartment with a huge chest, large enough to hold a man, which belonged to your grandmother. It should contain only a few ancient embroideries. I believe that there may now be much more in it. She will not allow me, your oldest retainer, to look inside."
Nuri went to his wife's room, and found her sitting disconsolately beside the massive wooden box. "Will you show me what is in the chest?" he asked.
"Because of the suspicion of a servant, or because you do not trust me?"
"Would it not be easier to just open it, without thinking about the undertones?" asked Nuri.
"I do not think it is possible."
"Is it locked?"
"Where is the key?"
She held it up, "Dismiss the servant and I will give it to you."
The servant was dismissed. The woman handed over the key and herself withdrew, obviously troubled in mind.
Nuri Bey thought for a long time. Then he called four gardeners from his estate. Together they carried the chest by night unopened to a distant part of the grounds and buried it.
The matter was never referred to again.
Online Cohort #6 with Mark & Renée June 22 and 24 Registration and info here
June 30 and July 7
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Mark Novak is co-founder of The MultiFaith Storytelling Institute