12 October 2008

Tears for Fears

Mendel Futerfas was a prisoner in Soviet labor camps for 14 years for religious activities.
He once related that on one occasion his fellow prisoners were sitting around recounting their previous lives. All were understandably bitter and depressed over loss of their freedom, contact with family, etc. One after another they tearfully lamented their fate and how they low they had been brought down by their imprisonment. All except one - Reb Futerfas. Finally someone opined that since Reb Futerfas was not complaining, it meant that he must have been not a great achiever before, when he was a free man, and so now he did not have much to lament over.

To this Reb Futerfas replied that he too had achieved a measure of material success before his arrest, he had successfully run a business, and that of course he also missed his family. He then added - "but my main concern in life is to be an "oved Hashem" - to serve G-d, before they imprisoned me I was doing it as a free man, as a businessman, etc. Now I'm doing it as a prisoner but my main occupation has not changed, I'm still trying to be G-d's servant, albeit under very different and trying circumstances."

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