(21.40) The Task is Great


The 77% Weekly
The 40/52-weeks-a-year, quick-reading, thought-lingering, spiritual-religious newsletter.

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From the desk of Rabbi Brian

The Task is Great
Rabbi Tarfon,
who lived at the turn of the first millennium, is purported to have
written one of my favorite paradoxical quotes. It’s a simple, yet
profound statement:

You are neither obligated to complete the task nor are you free to desist from it.

does this message mean? The first part of it says you’re not required
to do whatever you think you need to do. The second part says you still
need to try to do the task, whatever it is.

want you to think of some great project in your life you feel you’ve
been called to do. Tarfon says you don’t need to complete it. On the
other hand, you can’t stop from trying it.

Chances are, if you’re anything like me, there are times when the task in front of you doesn’t seem doable. You feel like Sisyphus,
who was eternally obligated to push a huge boulder up a mountain. You
may look at your in-box and feel overwhelmed. Your to-do list is too
long. You feel that you’re the only person who can accomplish certain
things that need to be done.

Here’s what you are obligated to do: do the best you can. You don’t have to finish your project, but you cannot run away from it either.

This is like the philosophy behind The 77% Weekly newsletter.
It’s 77% (not 100%) for a reason. We don’t need to embrace an “all or
nothing,” black-and-white mentality in which either we achieve
everything at once, or do nothing at all.

I feel this way all the time. I feel I could, and worse, should, be doing more. I bet you do to.

We can – and must – reside in the middle by doing what we can.
About two thousand years after Tarfon uttered his statement, Franz Kafka said something related to this dilemma:

The fact that our task is exactly commensurate with our life gives it the appearance of being infinite.

What is Kafka telling us? To accomplish all that we will accomplish only looks infinite; therefore, it (falsely) appears impossible to achieve.
I take solace in the idea that I’ll get done exactly what I’m supposed to get done.
I hope you do, too.
This week’s spiritual-religious advice: realize you can’t do everything you think you need to do. This doesn’t mean you’re free from trying to do it.


With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian

The 77% Weekly

The 77% Weekly: The Religion-Outside-The-Box Newsletter
helps people find and be with (the) God (of their understanding) 40 out of 52 weeks a year.


Why 77%?
Two reasons:
1) 40/52 = 0.76923. The newsletter is sent every Monday except the last of each month.
2) In school 77% was a passing grade and ROTB is delighted to remind you that life isn’t graded.

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