“That’s pretty high up,” Yaakov said. “I don’t think I can reach it. Maybe you should get someone a little taller than I to do it.”
“Are you giving up without trying?” Reuven asked. “You could solve the problem if you get a ladder and climb up a few steps so that you can reach it.”
“I knew that,” Yaakov said, looking embarrassed. “Do you know where I might find one?”
“Sure,” Reuven said, “follow me. I’ll help you carry it. Always remember, not every height can be reached in one leap.”
Great expectations can result in failure. Not failure for lack of ability — but for lack of trying.
The ideal type of service to Hashem that we all strive for is called lishmah, purely for the sake of Heaven. Doing something without self-interest is difficult, to say the least — and to some, impossible. Rebbi Yehudah said: “A person should do things lo lishmah — not purely for the sake of Heaven — because one who starts selfishly will find that eventually the selfish act will become purely selfless” (Pesachim 50b).
We encourage children to do mitzvot by giving them prizes and sweets, hoping that they will do the same things without material rewards as they grow older and mature. As adults, we may start a learning schedule because some of those participating are good friends or simply because the time slot fits well into our schedule. Eventually, this shiur becomes a vital, high-priority part of our day, purely for learning’s sake. When something clashes with our shiur, we strive to find a way to reschedule that conflict. By attending daily and growing slowly, we have built up resistance to distractions to the thing we’ve grown to love. It may have required some incentives at first, but once we’ve started to climb the ladder, the goal is in reach.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Whenever people complained to Rabbi Rephael of Berditsch that someone insulted them, he told them, “You are making a mistake in your attitude towards insults. You gain a great deal from insults and you should learn to appreciate them.” (Rabbi Pinchas MiKaritz, Midrash Pinchas, part 2, no. 31)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.