Let My People Know

"The circle means death: moving but staying in the same place"


Procession caterpillars go in a line, one after the other. 

You see a whole line of caterpillars, each touching the other, and they are going in a procession. 

They are perhaps searching for food, or whatever. 

Biologists experimented with them and one experiment had almost political implications. 

One caterpillar leads. 

The others follow. 

Why is the leader a leader? 

What made him into being a leader? 

And they found out that the leader is a leader because each has the instinctive feeling to follow the tail of another caterpillar. 

Now, there was one caterpillar who didn't find a tail, so he became the leader. 

By default. So that's the leader! The one that didn't find a tail.

In order to prove it, they did something which is in a way unkind. 

They arranged them to form a circle, the first caterpillar touching the last. 

They work by instinct, and so they walk in a circle. 

And they go like this until they die. Always in the same circle. 

Sometimes people go in this kind of circle in their spiritual life and the only way to solve it is to cut it. 

You have to cut the caterpillar-like circle by will, and then you may go in any direction.

The circle means death, moving but staying in the same place. 

There are people who lead that sort of life for years, and I'm not speaking about material ways of life, but spiritual as well. 

A person has all kinds of driving impulses, but no solution. 

You come to the same questions, the same answers, and so you move in a circle. 

You don't move anywhere.

Things like worry or depression are almost the same. 

You go into a circle, and you can't cut it. 

Because a worry doesn't have any answer. 

It can only be cut, not answered. 

You can go on worrying forever.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From as essay "Educating Desire" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz