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One of the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith
Story: The Butterfly
There was once a very wise rabbi who could answer all questions. One of his students, a precocious young boy, wanted to prove to the class that the esteemed rabbi was not so smart after all. He thought of a foolproof plan.
He would catch a butterfly and hold it in his hands behind his back. If the rabbi would guess what it was, then the boy would ask, "Is it alive or dead?" If the rabbi would say, "It's alive," the boy would close his fist and crush it; if the rabbi would say, "It's dead," he would open his hands and set it free. Either way the rabbi would surely be wrong!
Excited with this plan the young boy approached his teacher, holding his hands behind his back. "Rabbi, being that you are so wise you surely know what I have behind my back!"
"Indeed I do," said the rabbi. "You have a butterfly."
"Yes," said the boy. "But can you tell me if it is alive or dead?" he asked, smiling devilishly. "Ha Ha!" thought the boy, "I finally got him!"
The wise rabbi thought for a while and then answered, "It's all in your hands."
The mission of the Jewish people is Tikkun Olam -- working at bringing the world to perfection, a world worthy of the coming of the Messiah. Far from being a statement of passivity, it's up to us to make it happen. When and how is entirely in our hands.
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