The Check Up
By Larry Fine
Many years ago in Israel telephones were a rarity. There were very few private houses that had their own phones. When a person needed to make a telephone call he would go down to the local post office and pay the clerk a few grushim and the clerk would let him make his call on the post office's phone.
One day a man came into the local post office and requested to use the phone. He gave the clerk the few grushim that it cost and he called the local factory which was located at the other end of town.
"Hello," the man began, "I am looking for a job in your factory. I can do such and such type of work and I am young strong and intelligent. I guarantee that no one can work better than me."
"Sorry," came the answer, "we already have a fellow who is doing that type of work and we don't need another worker."
"But listen," the man continued, "I am an on-the-ball person, I can do twice the work of the other fellow, and I will work for less than that worker. Try me, I guarantee that you will be happy with my work."
"Sorry," the voice at the other end replied, "but we are satisfied with our worker and we have no desire to try another person in his place."
The man hung up the phone and gave it back to the clerk, turned and left the post office.
A month passed and the same man returned to the post office and requested again to use the phone. Once more he called the same factory and made the similar inquiries about work and again offered himself at discount rates if only they would give him a chance. But the answer was no, the factory was satisfied with the current worker, and there was no chance to bring in a stranger from the outside. The man gave the phone back to the clerk and quietly left the post office.
This happened month after month. Each month the man would arrive at the post office and make his phone call to the factory. He would exhort his skills and his willingness to work long hours for less pay. The answer was always the same; the factory had a competent worker and no work was available for him.
The post office clerk became impressed with the tenacity of this fellow and saw that he had qualities that would make him a good worker. One day after making his phone call and being rejected, the clerk called him over to speak with him.
"You know, I've been impressed with your persistence. I have a job here in the post office and from what I've gathered you would be a good candidate for the job. Would you like to try it out?"
"No," smiled the man in surprise, "I already have a good job."
"Whaa?" the clerk uttered in surprise, "I have been listening to you asking the factory for a job for several months! I don't understand? If you have a good job why do you call up the factory each month looking for work?"
"Simple," explained the man, "I want to know if the factory thinks my performance is good. So I call up and pretend that I am some one else who is looking for my job. If they were to tell me to come in for an interview, I know that my performance is lacking. Since they say that they are not interested in a new person, even at a reduced salary, I know that my work is appreciated."
* * *
Now this is a clever man. His job is important to him so he constantly checks up on himself. What about you, do you ever check up on yourself?
In trying to be a good person who desires to be close with G-d have you checked your performance lately? Perhaps it would be a wise thing. How are you doing?
Test yourself: If on a scale of 1 to 10, we said that your rating in being a good person who tries to get close to G-d was 5 last week, what would you say about this week? Did you increase your spiritual self or did you descend into the levels of physical pleasure seeking?
It is a prudent idea that each week, preferably on Friday, before the onset of the Shabbat that you set aside several minutes to sort out the week's events and judge yourself as to your improvement or decline in enhancing your spirituality.
If it has been a week in which there has been improvement, then the Shabbat will bring about an additional spirituality. But if there has been deterioration in spirituality, then the Shabbat will become a day in which it is possible to repair the backsliding and rise up above the worldly material and physical attractions and be a day truly dedicated to G-d.
from the November 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine