The moral, of course, is not to cultivate a habit of
scrupulosity about detail when it comes to sinning
while allowing yourself some serious whoppers.
To condemn the drinking of bugs with camel hairs
sticking out between your teeth is at best ridiculous.
The Law is holy, sweet and good: it will keep you.
The point is not to miss the point.
But you must not therefore conclude that Jesus teaches
not to strain the gnat. You still have to haul out
magnifier and mesh. You still have to angle the lamp just so
to give yourself sufficient light, she is so small.
You have to do this, for one thing, because
she is a creature that swarms upon the earth, and
Leviticus says for your own good you may not eat her
whole or drink her residue in the water she brewed in
after dropping terrified onto the roiling surface of the pot;
and, for another, because there’s always a chance
she might still be alive. For what good shepherd
does not leave the ninety-nine when one lost lamb
might still be bleating far away? And what sad boy,
finding himself in hot water, does not dream
he has a father who will pluck him from the deep?