Four Levels of If Not Higher (I. L. Peretz):
1. Literal Comprehension
If Not Higher:
Every Friday morning before the morning prayers, Rabbi disappears. So, people believe that he goes to heaven to meet with god. But there is this Jew called Litvak who doesn’t believe in this so decides to check for himself.
One night he sneaks into Rabbi’s room hides under his bed. In the morning, while everyone rushes towards Church for morning prayer, he sees Rabbi get dressed in peasant clothes then he goes to the kitchen gets an ax and moves ahead towards the vast forest. The Rabbi after sometimes stops in front of a small tree and starts to chop a tree. He carries it towards the town.
Then, Litvak sees Rabbi enter inside a home where an old sick widow lives alone. The Rabbi lits fire for her and cooks for her. After seeing this, Litvak understands why people respect Rabbi so much and becomes his disciple. When people say Rabbi descends to heaven, Litvak adds he goes higher than that.
This story ‘ If Not Higher ‘might be trying to convey the message to us about the beliefs and importance of practical religion. If someone is in some kind of problem or is in a helpless situation. we have to help them. As human service is the greatest service which should be done on this earth.
The story is also trying to show that just going to temples, reciting holy books, praying, etc. are less fruitful than actual bits of help and support helpless people. By the cat of Rabbi, Litvak seems to get the proof of heaven.
3. Critical Thinking
The aforementioned is an interesting story ‘ If Not Higher ‘ to read as it gives a clear vision about the god, heaven, religion, and virtue. Still, there are some questions in my mind.
- Is it possible to go to heaven when someone is still alive?
- How can someone be called Rabbi if he doesn’t take part in the traditional way of praying in the holy place?
- Is it really possible to find a person like Rabbi in real life?
The story helped me to strengthen the idea of humanity. The Rabbi is a perfect example of a person to serve humanity. I can understand why the Litvak had doubt. This story inspired me to help the needy ones. There is no heaven or paradise only higher or unseen place but all is the good deeds that we do. It is in the help of poor, sick and needy.