BLTC Press Titles


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The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Hebrew tales

by Hyman Hurwitz

Excerpt:

Deut. i. 13.

As long, says Rabbi Joshua Ben Levi, as the lower orders submit to the direction of the higher orders* of society, every thing goes on well. They (i. e. the rulers) decree, and God confirms. The prosperity of the state is the result. But when the higher orders, either from corrupt motives, or from want of firmness, submit to or are swayed by the opinions of the lower orders, they are sure to fall together; and the destruction of the state will be inevitable. To illustrate this important truth, he related the following fable:

The Serpent's Tail And Its Head. The serpent's tail had long followed the direction of the head, and all went on well. One day the tail began to be dissatisfied with this natural arrangement; and thus addressed the head : — "I have long, with great indignation, observed thy unjust proceedings. In all our journies, it is thou that takest the lead; whereas I, like a menial servant, am obliged to follow behind. Thou appearest everywhere foremost; but I, like a miserable slave, must remain in the back-ground.—Is this just ? — Is it fair 1 Am I not a member of the same body? Why should not I have its management -as well as thou ?" — "Thou!" exclaimed the head, "thou, silly tail, wilt manage the body! Thou hast neither eyes, to see danger — nor ears, to be apprized of it — nor brains, to prevent it. Perceivest thou not, that it is even for thy advantage that I should direct and lead 1" "For my advantage, indeed!" rejoined the tail. "This is the language of all and every usurper. They all pretend to rule for the benefit of their slaves; — but I will no longer submit to such a state of things. I insist upon, and will take the lead in my turn." "Well, well!" replied the head, " be it so. Lead on." — The tail, rejoiced, accordingly took the lead. Its first exploit was to drag the body into a miry ditch. — The situation was not very pleasant. The tail struggled hard, groped along, and by dint of great exertion got out again; but the body was so thickly covered with dirt and filth, as hardly to be known to belong to the same creature. Its next exploit was to get entangled amongst briars and thorns. The pain was intense; the whole body was agitated; the more it struggled the deeper the wounds. Here it would have ended its miserable career, had not the head hastened to its assistance, and relieved it from its perilous situation. Not contented, it still persisted in keeping the lead. It marched on, — and, as chance would have it, crept into a fiery furnace. It soon began to feel the dreadful effects of the destructive element. The whole body was convulsed, — all was terror, confusion, and dismay. The head again hastened to afford its friendly aid.— Alas! it was too late. The tail was already consumed. The fire soon reached the vital parts of the body — it was destroyed — and the head was involved in the general ruin.

* By the higher orders of society, our Eabbi meant those members of the state, who, on account of their wisdom, piety, experience, integrity, and disinterestedness, were best qualified to administer the laws and govern the people. It was their duty to preserve the law, which was supreme, and to which they themselves were subject; to administer it impartially for the benefit of the whole community; and to use the authority, with which they were invested, for the good of the public. By the lower orders he meant the rest of the people, whose interest and duty it was strictly to adhere to the law, which was instituted for their preservation; and to render its authority, as well as that of its administrators, effectual, by due submission and obedience.

What caused the destruction of the head? Was it not because it suffered itself to be guided by the imbecile tail ?—Such will, assuredly, be the fate of the higher orders, should they suffer themselves to be swayed by popular prejudices.

Medrash Bamid-bar Rabah.

XXXVII.


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