web analytics
September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Gym And The Spa

The-Shmuz

“It is not in the heavens for you to say,
‘Who can ascend to the heaven for us and take it
for us so that we can listen to it and perform it?’….
Rather the matter is very near to you,
in your mouth and your heart, to perform it.”

– Devarim 30:12-14

After many grave warnings against leaving the ways of the Torah, Moshe Rabbeinu tells Klal Yisrael that learning and keeping the Torah is within easy grasp of each of us. “Acquiring it doesn’t require wings to fly to the heavens, and studying it doesn’t demand crossing oceans.” Rather, Torah is well within the reach of each person.

Rashi, in commenting on the words “it is not in the heavens,” adds the explanation: “For if it were in the heavens, you would be obligated to go up after it to learn it.”

This is difficult to understand. Rashi’s role in Chumash is to clarify what the Torah means. As an aid to understanding, he may use examples and parables, but the goal is always to explain the pshat – the straightforward meaning of the pasuk.

This comment not only fails to help us understand what the Torah is telling us – it isn’t true. Since time immemorial man has dreamed of flying, but man cannot sprout wings and fly. How can the Torah expect the impossible from us? And even more, this explanation is the opposite of what the Torah is trying to tell us. The entire paragraph outlines how close the Torah is and how easy it is to attain it. What is Rashi trying to teach us with his comment, “If it were in the heavens, you would be obligated to go up after it to learn it?”

The answer to this can best be understood with a mashal:

In 1997, in Tallahassee, Florida, a young boy was involved in an accident and ended up being pinned under the wheel of a car. Rescuers couldn’t help him; he was trapped. An onlooker, seeing the danger, rushed over, and almost without thinking, reached for the fender of the car, lifted it off the ground, and freed the boy.

The unusual part of the story is that the hero, the one who lifted the car, was not a trained emergency professional or some big burly fireman, but rather the boy’s 63-year-old grandmother who had never before lifted anything heavier than a bag of dog food.

The story became a media sensation and Dr. Charles Garfield, author of a book of fantastic sports feats titled Peak Performance, decided he wanted to interview the woman. However, she wasn’t interested in talking to him. She wouldn’t return his calls and did everything she could to avoid discussing the event. Finally, Dr. Garfield, being a persuasive fellow, got her to agree to a meeting, and the reason she’d been reluctant to discuss the act turned out to be almost as amazing as the act itself.

During the discussion, the grandmother said she didn’t like to talk about the incident because it challenged her beliefs about what she could and could not do: “If I was able to do this, when I didn’t think it was possible, what does that say about the rest of my life? Have I wasted it?”

After further discussion, Dr. Garfield asked her what she would like to do. She explained that she had never had the opportunity to further her education after high school. So after some coaching, Mrs. Laura Shultz began college at the age of 63. She received her degree and then went on to teach science at a community college.

This story is illustrative of a very human tendency. Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us. If I were smarter, I would have…If I were more talented, I could have…but I just can’t do it. Yet some people, who aren’t any more talented, who weren’t given all the breaks, just seem to plow through and make the seemingly impossible happen. It almost seems their attitude is their single greatest asset.

This seems to be the answer to this Rashi. The Torah isn’t telling us we need to sprout wings and fly. Rather, this is a mashal for the drive a person must have to succeed. If a person’s attitude is, “Whatever it takes; no mountain is too high, no obstacle too difficult, and if it were up in the heavens, I would fly there,” then he will reach heights. However, if that enthusiasm is lacking, no matter how close the Torah is, he will not acquire it.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Gym And The Spa”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh (in blue shirt, center), benefitted politically - and in a dramatic fashion - from this summer's war.  Photo from Hamas victory rally, Aug. 27, 2014.
Gazan Deaths and Destruction Dramatically Drives Popularity for Hamas
Latest Judaism Stories
shofar+kotel

If you had an important court date scheduled – one that would determine your financial future, or even your very life – you’d be sure to prepare for weeks beforehand. On Rosh Hashanah, each individual is judged on the merit of his deeds. Whether he will live out the year or not. Whether he will […]

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.

He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

The-Shmuz

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

We may not recognize the adverse affect of eating forbidden foods, but they leave an indelible imprint.

There are often two distinct perspectives of an event: the perspective from living in the moment, and the perspective of history.

The rock doesn’t have needs, yet it listens to Hashem. How much more so should we, who have so many needs?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-gym-and-the-spa/2013/08/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: