| Literal Comprehension
“If Not Higher” is the ancient tale of Poland, adapted by Peretz. It is a short and beautiful story written in the context of penitential prayers. The lord or priest of a village, Rabbi goes missing every Friday morning at the time of penitential prayers.
Litvak who is a Lithuanian Jew was the opposite of Rabbi and thinks himself superior to him. He wants to know where does Rabbi disappears every Friday morning. So, he slides under the Rabbi’s bed. Early morning on Friday, Rabbi gets up at the time of prayer and disguises himself as a peasant. He took an ax and a heavy peasant rope with him.
Litvak saw all that and got surprised but still follows Rabbi on the way toward the jungle. After a while, Rabbi starts to chop a small tree into a log and stick, then tighten all of them with a rope.
He took all that to an old widow’s house to sell only for six cents. But that old, sick woman who can’t return those cents and can’t light the fire refused that offer.
The Rabbi himself starts to light the fire and start his first portion of the penitential prayer. As he kindled the fire and the wood burned brightly, he recited a bit more joyously the second portion of the penitential prayer.
When the fire was set he recited the third portion. That all action was sawed by Litvak. Then Litvak does not laugh but adds quietly if not higher.
The story may be trying to tell us that worshipping the god of stone is not worthier as praying for the poor house. Only after we pray with a clean heart and in the right place, we can feel heaven on earth.
That poor house might be heaven for Rabbi. We must not give up our religion but utilize that in a proper place and time.
| Critical Thinking
This is the story where I can’t find very critical evidence, but also I do not totally agree with the writer. Is it possible to go to heaven before dying? Is it possible to not be recognized while going to the poor woman’s house on the way?
Though it is not possible to go to every poor’s house, I remember the saying “something is better than nothing”. So, I think if no one is helping, then one must take responsibility though it might be a difficult path.
After reading this story I realized that the priest is not only a temple priest but also a God who is alive in between those stones god. Praying in the temple doesn’t kindle the fire of the poor’s house.
So, the priest himself got to the poor’s house and kindle the fire with penitential prayer. Now I realized why I can’t see a priest every Sunday morning in the temple of my village. He might also be busy distributing happiness and joy in a poor’s house.
This story has opened my eyes that we must not give up our religion anywhere though it might not be a suitable place. I also got clarified that prayer is not done by determining time and place but is done by belief.