Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Phony Gorilla

When Benjamin applied for a job at the zoo, this was not what he had in mind. He was shocked when the zoo manager showed him the gorilla suit. But he needed the job.

The gorilla enclosure - one of the zoo's most popular sites - had been empty for a month after its previous occupant had died suddenly of a gastrointestinal infection. The zoo was having financial difficulties, and could not afford the high expenses of acquiring and taking care of a new gorilla. Instead, the zoo management decided to hire someone to act like a gorilla during peak visiting hours.

Benjamin started work the next day. It was hot inside the suit, and not easy to jump around and pretend to be a gorilla for hours at a time. He went home at the end of the day sweaty and exhausted. But it paid the bills.

It all came to an end one hot summer day. Uncomfortable after many hours in the suit, Benjamin became irritable. When some boys started throwing popsicle sticks at him, he lost it. Benjamin tore the sticks off his furry coat and yelled at the boys. "Is that the way you treat a gorilla?" he roared.

The zoo manager fired Benjamin on the spot. It was a PR disaster for the zoo.

Benjamin, however, needed the money. "The whole year, I was a great gorilla. I beat my chest. I grunted and hooted. The kids loved me. Then one mistake, and you fire me? Is that fair?"

The manager was not moved by Benjamin's argument. "I'm sorry, but there's no way that I could send you out there again. Once you opened your mouth, you showed everyone that you are a man, not a gorilla. You could jump up and down and eat as many bananas as you like, but people will always know what you really are."

Yom Kippur: showing the world who we really are

The same is true with us. We might spend the whole year running after money and material pleasures. But once we spend Yom Kippur dedicated to our spiritual side, devoted to prayer and repentance, we show the whole world who we really are. We show everyone - ourselves included - that underneath all that superficiality, lives a holy human soul.