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Find Glamour in the Grind

Find Glamour in the Grind

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Do you feel stuck in a rut? Do you ever fantasize about making a bold change in your life, perhaps starting a new career or moving to another city?

Whether it’s our domestic chores, the daily challenge of homework with children or the endless list of things that need fixing, by the time a day is over, we’re exhausted. Novelty seems far away.

There’s a wonderful children’s story about a discontented stonecutter, whose backbreaking job it was to hack at a stone mountain all day with his heavy axe. What an inconsequential occupation, let alone a life’s mission. He didn’t want to chop at mountains; he wanted to move mountains! He wanted to be a mover and a shaker! A somebody. Do you feel stuck in a rut?And—he wanted an easier ride. This stonecutting was exhausting labor.

One day, a chariot transporting a mighty monarch passed by. “Ah,” thought the stonecutter, “to be a king—what a dream! It’s easy and so‑o‑o glamorous.” As he fantasized how wonderful and stimulating that role would be, presto! His wish became a reality, and he was suddenly sitting in a royal, splendid coach. How powerful and mighty he felt, issuing commands to his subjects—until the sun started to beat mercilessly on him. He realized the sun was mightier than he, and he wished to become the sun. Poof! He became the sun, beaming its powerful rays toward the earth.

But his quest to be the ultimate “someone” did not end there. He became the clouds that blocked the sun, then the powerful wind that was able to blow away the clouds, then the mountain that was able to stand its ground against the wind, until . . . a stonecutter came along and began to chisel away at his mountainside. When he realized what power the simple stonecutter wielded, power over the great big mountain, he decided to become—a stonecutter. He was back where he had started—but not really. There was new vigor in every chop and new glamour in every chip. Every small action was making a huge difference.

It’s tempting to fantasize about a better life. We’d love to dodge our own reality, our never-ending workload, the monotony of our existence. We dream of escaping, some exciting new means of self-fulfillment. And something easy. Who wants to work hard, anyway?

The world is a very exciting place, but if we don’t think that what we’re doing is any big deal, if we fail to see the redeeming value of our daily routine, we can become jaded and seek out fun-filled fantasies. We’re dazzled by things that have high visibility and make a public splash; we’re impressed by titles and multiple letters after one’s name. Our rational sight is clouded by the glitz and glare, while authentic Judaism is swept aside by the winds of “progress.”

Being out in the public eye, being conspicuous, noticed and wowed over is not the source of our distinctiveness. Were the cameras flashing when Moses came to the rescue of the daughters of Yitro (Jethro) at the well? When the relieved daughters returned home and recounted how a stranger had delivered them from the shepherds’ malevolent mischief, Yitro asked them, “Where is he (Ayo)? A person of this caliber would This was an extraordinary display of modestybe a good marriage candidate for one of you.”

His query was an echo of an earlier verse in the Torah. “Where is she (Ayeh Sarah)?” the three angels asked about Sarah, their hostess in the desert. “Where is Sarah, in whose merit the world is blessed?”

Moses’s “no-show” reminded Yitro of Sarah. Moses did not follow Yitro’s daughters home, and so did not receive praise and recognition for his heroic act. This was an extraordinary trait of modesty, Maharal explains. Yitro realized that the stranger must be a descendant of the woman who prepared a beautiful repast for her guests but did not feel any need for recognition. Sarah remained inconspicuous, doing the ordinary everyday things that exceptional people do. It was enough for her to be in the right place at the right time.

The presumption that “to be noticed proves that I’m a somebody” is a fallacy. There’s a better, more effective way to be celebrated. Every act that we do with the correct intention is special. And G‑d cherishes every one of those acts, no matter how trivial—forever.

For G‑d values modesty. He values one who is focused on inner qualities, not externalities, accolades and attention.

What is most hidden is ultimately the most sought after.

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Anonymous Monsey March 2, 2015

Very nice! Thank you very much. Reply

Judith Berge Bethel Park PA February 3, 2015

insight, imagination,& encouragement Gitty Stolick's "Find Glamour in the Grind " is a marvelous picture of not just imagination and the quietness of modesty, it shows the power of inner imaginative thinking in the place called G-d's footstool, earth. Imagine a planet where absolutely everybody played the piccolo and nobody chose a cello or a guitar, a world without brass or percussion. Stolick's stonecutter just needed encouragement and insight. There are maybe zillions of possibilities in our world, a mere footstool. The stonecutter already was a sort of 'flower' in a world full of both literal ones and metaphors. Today, tomorrow, let yourself know whether you are, among other things, a harmonica or a pipe organ. Or maybe there's a stranger on a local bus, blithely sawing away on a string bass. Some talents aren't all that invisible. Maybe that one serves G-d too... Reply

Reader February 3, 2015

Thank you! Much needed perspective. Reply

Eliezer Yoel February 3, 2015

Inspiring article!! Reply

doreet Eugene OR 97404 August 27, 2014

the daily grind or glamour? Rob,. I commend you.And this article. In Eugene, Oregon, most people here were working class,worked hard,but were ok with it.Even if we were poor,we never really noticed it. it was not BAD to be a low income worker.My dad had a small jewelry-watchmaking shop.We just eked out a living,and we all worked in the shop;I made all his signs,.advertisements, designed his business cards.I chose the wrong career,as a young person, to go into graphic design and advertising; it was a disaster, and so were the people.I had a choice as older,to teach people to learn to cook,and with them,in half-way houses,co-ops.It paid less,but was much more satisfying.So were the people and the staff; they appreciated my help.And my sister and I did take turns,caring for our mom,until she died,and we're both glad we did.Nursing homes weren't good.She was our mom.And those people were appreciate of my teaching,and that mattered more than anything. thank you!! :) Reply

Anonymous August 22, 2014

Question Beautiful piece, Gitty. But what if Yiddishkeit itself is the new, appealing thing beckoning us away from our stable circumstances? "We’d love to dodge our own reality, our never-ending workload, the monotony of our existence. We dream of escaping, some exciting new means of self-fulfillment." Is it better to honor long-standing promises and plans--some of which involve other people--or to forsake them for a more Torahddik life? Reply

Leah August 21, 2014

Beautiful thank you Reply

Rob August 20, 2014

Dual realities Glamour In The Grind was an excellent article with directly personal connections to my life. I've worked as a musician with famous performers and have also worked in a pawn shop, loaning money to the working poor. I found it so unusual that I lived these two contrasting realities. I worked at the pawn shop because my mother had had a stroke, and I suddenly needed a day job within walking distance of her house.
My desire and obligation to take care of my mother completely trumped the concept of performing music for the wealthy. For a time I worked at the pawn shop and worked as a musician, but ultimately stopped playing music when the economy collapsed in 2008. My mother passed away in 2011, and I am now content to simply be the best musician I can be on a smaller scale, while living a mortgage free lifestyle at age 60. I live simply and have low expectations regarding employment. I recently quit the pawn shop because I could no longer exploit the working poor. Reply

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