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A young man named Joshua once went to the prophet Elijah and said, “Elijah, can I go around with you for just a short time and watch what you do? Would you let me be with you to see how you are creating miracles and interacting with the world?”
To this, Elijah replied, “Yes, you may come with me, but it must be under one condition: Please don’t ask questions. Just observe.”
Joshua agreed, and so the two men set out and travelled to a small town where they found a poor family whose entire livelihood came from one single cow. They sat with the family for a few minutes before, to the family’s and young man’s astonishment, Elijah got up, went outside, and slaughtered the cow before their very eyes! Baffled and confused, Joshua started to doubt and question what Elijah was doing at this poor man’s house. Before he was able to speak up, however, Elijah told him firmly, “Wait a second. I told you no questions.” And with that, the two of them continued on their way.
From the poor family’s home, Elijah and Joshua travelled to a second house. This time, the owner of the house was very wealthy but not at all gracious. In fact, the minute they entered this affluent neighborhood, they were treated by all the residents with disdain and a complete lack of human dignity.
Their unkind host told them, “Since you are here, I will feed you, but go and sit in the servants’ quarters. I will give you bread, water, and salt to eat, not because I want to give them to you, but because I have no choice. I must follow a foolish social custom that demands that I share.”
Soon after they ate, Elijah and Joshua turned to leave. But just as they were walking out, Elijah said to their unpleasant host, “I understand that the walls of your house are crumbling. Therefore, I bless you that the house will be fixed and that you will have in it all that you need.” Sure enough, with this blessing, the house was repaired and the man given everything he could have needed.
Then the two men moved on to the community building that was filled with all the callous people who had snubbed them as they had entered the town. There, to Joshua’s amazement, Elijah blessed each person to be a leader in his or her own right. At this point, the young man was almost irate. He was angry with Elijah for treating this mean man and unfriendly community with such kindness and care. He didn’t understand how the kabbalist could bless a group of people filled with so much ego and pride. Nevertheless, he knew he had promised not to ask questions, so he kept his promise and followed Elijah to their next destination.
The third place they visited was a modest community filled with kind and wonderful people. These people accepted and served Elijah and Joshua with honor. When the time came for the two men to leave, Elijah turned to the head of the community and said, “I bless you that you shall have only one leader.” Upon hearing this, Joshua could no longer contain his confusion and frustration and decided that it was time to speak up. He wanted to know why Elijah was giving all these blessings that didn’t seem to make sense, so he said, “Elijah, listen. I am going home; I just can’t take this anymore. I don’t understand what is going on here. Please, explain it to me.”
“Fine,” sighed Elijah. “I will share with you what really happened. When we entered the first home, it had been preordained that the man of the house would lose his wife that day, but when I slaughtered the cow, it annulled the decree. In the next community, there was a fortune hidden under the wealthy man’s house, and had he dug for it, he would have gained even more wealth and power. So I repaired the house so that he wouldn’t look. As for the other residents of the community, my blessing on them was that everyone should be a leader, but do you know what happens when you have a community of all leaders and no followers? You have no community at all; it tears itself apart. In the final town we visited, I wished the townsfolk harmony, unity, love, and strength. I blessed them that they would have only one leader and that this one leader would be the Creator Who is inside all of us.”
Embarrassed at his inability to connect to this bigger picture, Joshua now understood why everything had happened the way it did.
The point of this story is that we often see good, strong, wonderful people going through terrible times, and we don’t understand why because our vision is limited to what we observe with our eyes. As I explain in much more detail in my new book, To Be Continued…Reincarnation and the Purpose of Our Lives it is only when we can connect with the bigger picture that we can understand that even the most difficult and painful things we all go through our in lives are there for our highest good and to help us attain another level in our spiritual growth.