Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

Guaranteed to fail

Dreams scare big enough.jpg 

There is one sure-fire, guaranteed, absolutely 100% certain way to ensure failure and that is to never try. If you don’t try learning that new skill, you can be certain to never learn it. If you don’t try to open that business, you can be guaranteed that it won’t open itself. And if you never make an effort to accomplish your goals; well, you know - you are guaranteed that they won’t accomplish themselves.

In fact, for thousands of years people from all walks of life have been ensuring failure using this foolproof method. And for one low, low price it can be yours today! Simply don’t try and you’re guaranteed to fail.

It is possible that our ideas, dreams and goals may be a little (or a lot!) out of our reach. And it’s certainly possible that we don’t currently have the necessary tools, contacts, resources - what have you, to make it work. But if we don’t make an effort, it will certainly never happen. The secret to success is taking the first step - even if we fall on our face, we’ll get up a little further ahead of where we began.

This lesson is embedded in a peculiar commentary in this week’s Torah portion. You know the story - Moses in the basket with his sister Miriam observing nearby. Batya, Pharaoh's daughter, comes to bathe in the Nile and sees the basket, hears the child crying and sends her maid to fetch the basket.

That’s the simple reading of the text. Rashi, the famous biblical commentator, uncharacteristically doesn’t suffice with the simple reading; he shares a second more miraculous explanation: Batya stretched out her hand to reach the basket and G-d miraculously extended her arm to enable her to draw the basket closer.

Why the need to explain this simple enough verse with some miraculous event? One answer suggested is that this was to communicate a powerful lesson - the value in making the effort, even when external forces are stacked up against you.

Batya knew she was too far to reach the basket, but she also knew she had to try. She stretched out her arm and miraculously she was able to reach it. But had she not stretched out her arm, that never would have happened.

“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough,” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female to be elected head of state in Africa, is said to have commented. True, but being scared isn’t going to help get them achieved - taking the first step towards achieving them,even when you’re scared; that is how to accomplish absolutely anything.

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