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Title: Crazy Old Farmer

Major Focus: Materialism

Minor Focus: Reward and Punishment

Abstract: People are always being given choices in life. Those drivers who did not heed the warnings of a "crazy old farmer" were very sorry in the end.

Format: Story

"See this day, I set before you the blessing and the curse: blessing, if you obey the commandments of God that I give you this day, and curse, if you do not obey the commandments of God, but turn away from the path that I give you this day and follow gods whom you have not experienced..."

Deuteronomy 11:26-28

It seems that we are always being given choices in life. We are told to choose this or choose that. We are made all sorts of promises and predictions as to what will happen if we chose one or the other pathway. We often wish that we could go back and do it over again, choosing another path instead of the one we did. We can't go back. We have to live with the choices we make. God gave the Israelites a choice when they stood on the banks of the Jordan River, about to go on to the Promised Land without Moses: "Choose life, not death. Choose blessing, not curse."

A story is told of a long line of cars winding its way through the country. The drivers were looking forward to the new, wide, modern superhighway that lay ahead. Surely this new road would save them hours of hard driving on the bumpy, rutted back country roads. As the cars approached the ramp for the new highway, they spotted an elderly farmer waving them down to warn them of trouble on the new road some thirty miles further on. He advised them to take the older roads. Although they seemed slower and rough, in the long run they would be better off.

Most drivers thought he was just a crazy old farmer. They didn't see anything wrong with the new road. They didn't see any official signs or flashing lights from the highway department. Most drivers ignored the old farmer and drove onto the new highway with its long stretches between exits. Some however, chose to follow the farmer's advice and stayed on the old back roads.

Those who had gotten onto the new highway were in for a sorry surprise. Thirty miles down the road a river had washed out the road within the past few hours. They reached the impasse. Traffic backed-up and only slowly were they able to get turned around or look for an exit. Drivers who took the beautiful new highway ended up taking back roads that were even worse than the ones they had avoided by going on the new road in the first place. In the end, they wasted hours and hours of time.

God said to the Israelites, "The path I tell you about may seem long, weary, and troublesome. Trust Me, you will be glad in the long run." The path of easy comforts and luxury may look inviting and smooth, but when careless temptations fall across it, people will be sorry they chose that road in the long run.

(Daat Ziconim)

Challenge Questions

  1. What have been the major decisions in your life, those that changed the course of your life? Which of them do you regret? What would you have done differently knowing what you do now?
  2. Have you ever had an experience similar to the drivers who ignored the old farmer in the story? Do you wish you had listened to that person's advice? What were the consequences of ignoring good advice?
  3. Why does the storyteller suggest that a Torah pathway is "long, weary, and troublesome"?