web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Gym And The Spa

The-Shmuz

Share Button

“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.

You don’t need to fly to the skies but you need be ready to. Once that drive is in place, nothing can stop you.

No matter what a person’s natural capacity and life circumstances, if he sets his goal as the attainment of Torah, Hashem will help so that he can reach the stars. Is the journey difficult? While there are many challenges along the way, the ways of the Torah are pleasant, and a Jew has unique aptitude to absorb it. The only difficult part is setting our sights high enough and holding the course. If a person sets out with a drive to do whatever it takes, even if it means “flying to the heavens,” Hashem helps – and that person can reach his personal level of greatness on par with that of the most exalted Torah giants.

Share Button

About the Author: The new Shmuz book, “Stop Surviving and Start Living,” is available in stores, at www.TheShmuz.com, or by calling 866-613-TORAH (8672).


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.

No Responses to “The Gym And The Spa”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
BDS targets Zabar's; Carole Zabar promotes BDS proponents.
All in the Family: BDS Protests Zabars; Carole Zabar Promotes BDS
Latest Judaism Stories
Reiss-041814-King

Amazingly, each and every blade was green and moist as if it was just freshly cut.

PTI-041814

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

Leff-041814

Someone who focuses only on the bones of the Torah makes his bones dry and passionless.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

The tendency to rely on human beings rather than G-d has been our curse throughout the centuries.

“Who is wise? One who learns from each person” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

In Judaism, to be without questions is a sign not of faith, but of lack of depth.

“I’ll try to help as we can,” said Mr. Goodman, “but we already made a special appeal this year. Let me see what other funds we have. I’ll be in touch with you in a day or two.”

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

Reckoning Time
‘Three Festivals, Even Out Of Order’
(Beizah 19b)

Two husbands were there to instruct us in Texas hold ‘em – and we needed them.

Question: Why do we start counting sefirat ha’omer in chutz la’aretz on the second night of Pesach when the omer in the times of the Beit Hamikdash was cut on Chol HaMoed?

M. Goldman
(Via E-Mail)

A few background principles regarding the prohibitions of chametz mixtures on Pesach may provide some shopping guidance.

According to the Rambam, the k’nas applies to any chametz on Pesach with which one could, in theory, transgress the aveirah – even if no transgression actually occurred.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

Rashi is bothered by the expression Hashem used: “the Jews need only travel.”

The-Shmuz

Hashem imprinted into the essence of each animal all the instincts necessary for its survival as well as for the continuation of its species.

They have heard many shmuzin discussing the severity of this issue, and they don’t question it.

It seems Rashi is saying that had a Jew remained in his house that evening, he would not have been killed, and had he left his house, he might have died – not because he was guilty of any sin, not because he deserved to die, but because once the destroyer is given permission to kill, anyone in his path is in danger.

To remind us of this, Hashem gave us a permanent reminder of our uniqueness – the mitzvah of milah.

Born in 1933, Sheldon Adelson was the son of Ukrainian immigrants. His father drove a taxi and his mother ran a knitting shop. He grew up in one of the poorest sections of Boston. But even as a young boy he showed great ambition, first selling newspapers on the street corner, and then running his first business at the age of twelve. He went on to build over fifty businesses, eventually owning the Venetian Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He became a very wealthy man.

Operating the crane is Joe. Joe is overweight and a chain smoker. Another worker approaches Joe and says, “Joe, look at you! 80 pounds overweight, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. You must do something about your health. Go the gym, work out, and get in shape.”

When a couple makes the conscious decision to have a baby, they use a system Hashem put into place to bring forth a child. They don’t claim to be knowledgeable enough in anatomy to synthesize the proteins needed for growth.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: