web analytics
July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



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.

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.

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
Military funeral in Israel
IDF Names Missing Soldier As Sgt. Oron Shaul
Latest Judaism Stories
PTI-071814

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Parshat Matot

Over the next 2 weeks covering portion Matot and Maasei, Rabbi Fohrman will bring order to confusion.

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Our home is in the center of the Holy Land, surrounded by (what else?) green hills and valleys.

Business-Halacha-logo

“Sound fine,” said Mrs. Schwartz. “In the middle, paint their names, Shoshana and Yehonasan. He spells his name Yehonasan with a hei and is very particular about it!”

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

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

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.

The negotiation between Moses and the tribes of Reuven and Gad is a model of conflict resolution.

Once again we find ourselves alone – a little lamb among wolves.

When we return to our routines, things don’t have to go back to exactly the way they were.

The Three Weeks determines the “who we are and how we live” as Jews.

Sometimes when Chazal say that two different people are really one, they do not mean it literally, but rather figuratively.

The midrash says that Pinchas, (this parsha), and Eliyahu, prophet of Kings, are one and the same.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

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

The-Shmuz

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?

Clearly, they were lacking in bitachon. Their faith in Hashem was deficient. But they weren’t guilty of speaking lashon hara.

Of even greater significance, once the miraglim made their mistake and concluded that Hashem wasn’t powerful enough to bring the people into the land, what they then spoke wasn’t lashon hara at all

To gain power or distract the population from their suffering, a monarch would look for a place to put the blame.

Why can’t a man just admit it is wrong to steal but he wants to do it anyway?

One of the quirks of human nature is that the average person assumes he is smarter than the average person.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    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: