A Parable for our Time


A Parable for our Time


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Opinion & Society

In the Hotel

By N. Schuldig

In almost every city, there are plenty of posh hotels. Almost everyone has had the opportunity to enter one, walk around and perhaps even sat down in the plush lobby or lounge and ordered a drink. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the price one must pay for a soft drink is exorbitant.

But we expect that the price of the drink will be greatly inflated in comparison to the price at the local grocery store, why? Because we know that even though we can buy the same soft drink in the neighborhood grocery store for a modest price, yet we are offered no facilities to drink it. Even if in some markets, there are facilities for sitting and drinking, then the price takes into account the modest surroundings.

As we enter the luxury hotel and we sit in the lobby or restaurant, we are greeted by a waiter asking us if we would like something to drink or eat. We specify what we want and it is brought to us. We desire to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings, the tapestries, the works of art hung on the wall, the exquisitely upholstered furnishings, the carpeting, the expensive chandeliers, therefore we are prepared to pay the hotel this inflated bill. We realize that this is the price for enjoying the hotel surroundings. We then understand that when we order a simple carbonated beverage, that the bill will be quite extravagant because of the magnificence of the surroundings in which we are hosted.

Perhaps one of the workers will ask us if we would like a room. If we accept we are shown a beautifully decorated room with handsome furnishings, tastefully decorated, clean linens and towel and we may enjoy the facilities of the hotel, such as the swimming pool, the Jacuzzi, the steam room and we may linger around the grounds.

When we decide to leave the hotel, we are handed a bill, so much for the drink, so much for the room, so much for the phone calls, the meals, the steam room etc. Prices in the hotel are much higher than if we rented a room and prepared our own meals. We expect, though, that we will pay for the service rendered since we were really there enjoying the various luxuries of the hotel. Everyone who stays in a hotel, no matter how long a stay, knows that eventually he must leave. He knows that nothing in the hotel is his to take with him, but rather it is there only to be used. When he leaves the hotel he must pay for everything he used and enjoyed. He who enjoys the comforts of the hotel and does not pay can expect a punishment.

Yet, the staff, the workers in the kitchen who are busy cleaning, polishing, shining, preparing and serving, are generally entitled to take a drink of the same soft drink that we must pay a high cost for no charge. They eat from the same delicious food that we must pay a premium for, and they also use the pool and steam room on occasion, too. They also know that when they are in the hotel, they may eat from the kitchen and occasionally enjoy the various appointments of the hotel. But they also know that when they leave, they cannot take anything with them. Except one thing - when they leave, the owner gives them payment for their work!

We can understand that quite easily.

The owner of the hotel understands that the staff is there to do his bidding. He provides them with everything they need. To the owner, the cost of the soft drink or meals is really negligible in comparison to the income they generate by people like myself who are quite willing to pay high costs to enjoy luxurious living. He, therefore, is will to give his workers these small benefits in order that they may continue their work unhampered by thirst and hunger. His profit comes from those, like ourselves, who come to enjoy the hotel without working in the hotel. His workers, he pays, but from the likes of ourselves, he charges a high price.

We can learn a bit about the world around us from that little parable.

In our world, there are basically two types of people in this world. There are those who look to enjoy everything that G-d provides. They see the world as a place made for their pleasure so they take as much as they can. But G-d above keeps a ledger of everything that they take and use for their own enjoyment. When they leave this world, they must pay for everything that they used for their own personal pleasure since everything in this world really belongs to G-d.

The second group of people is the workers. They realize that there is an owner of this world and they have become His employees. His will has become their daily tasks. They also enjoy the same physical comforts as the first group, except that when they leave this world, they are not expected to pay for what they enjoyed here. More so, they are given a payment for their work on behalf of their Boss to enjoy in the next world.

To which group do you think it is advantageous to belong?


from the July 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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