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the ARPC's partner in Israel, contact person:
Dr. Nadir Arber, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology
Head - Integrated Cancer Prevention Center
Tel Aviv Medical Center and
Tel Aviv University
6 Weizmann St., Tel Aviv 64239
Tel: 972-3-6974968
Fax: 972-3-6950339
e-mail: narber@post.tau.ac.il

Letter to a young monk

"In an extraordinary text of the French poet Henri Michaux - I found it recently - it's about a candidate to monasticism who confessing to the abbot of the monastery where he would like to be admitted:

You should know, Father, that I have no faith, no light, no essence, no trust in myself and I don't think that I can help myself even less the others. I have nothing.

The abbot answers:

What does it have to do with that! You have no faith, but giving it to the others, you will have it. Searching it for the others, you will gain it. You have to help your brother, your nearest, by giving him what you don't have. Not from your abundance, not from your little but from your emptiness. Giving the others what you don't have - faith, light, trust, hope - you will gain them for yourself. 

You have to help with what you have.

Giving what you don't have you gain what you gave to the others.


What Michaux says explains us, maybe, deeper, the text about the scaring Final Judgement. You give the thirsty one the water that maybe you don't have either, you give the hungry the food you maybe don't have either, you get dressed the naked with the clothes that you may be desire either.

Isn't this the secret of monastic life?

This is the Christian paradox in all its fullness, power and splendor. This is what Christ asks for: what seems to be absolutely impossible! Giving what you don't have! But here is the crazy, shattering, fearing pledge: giving what you do not have, you gain for yourself what you gave from the emptiness of your being. The supernatural gift given to the other is being reflected on yourself and fills you up, enriches you, transforms you and christens you.

Of course! It couldn't be otherwise! How could I be so blind and lout to imagine that Christ asks us to give what we have, much or little! Big deal! He asks us something else, the impossible: to give what we don't have. The same way as He, being God, gave us His death of  a mortal being.

Let any fear, uncertainty, despair disappear: the monk is called to give the others the faith and light, even if he misses them.

And don't worry about it, giving means gaining.


Nicolae Steinhardt,
Primejdia Marturisirii, p. 119

Humanitas Publishing House

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