GO BIG OR GO HOME
Parashat Ki Tavo
We have a mitzvah to be happy with all the good that G-d gives us.Â ×•×©×ž×—×ª ×‘×›×œ ×”×˜×•×‘ ××©×¨ × ×ª×Ÿ ×œ×š ×”’ ××œ×§×™×š. I always wondered why people who have more donâ€™t seem to be happier people.
My Rebbi taught me the following lesson. The world is split into two. People who are glad, and people who are sad. And the difference between the two is that the glad people focus on what they have. And the sad people are focusing on what they do not have. Half empty or half full.
This weekâ€™s Parasha splits the world into another two. People who are frustrated and people who are satisfied. The difference between the two, is that the people who are frustrated, believe that their efforts decide what they will have, or what they wonâ€™t have. As it saysÂ ×¢×¦×‘×™×”× ×›×¡×£ ×•×–×”×‘ ×ž×¢×©×” ×™×“×™ ××“×Â . The frustration (×¢×¦×‘×™×) is the result of the belief that gold and silver is the fruit of manâ€™s labor. (This is an original twist on the words.) And the people who are happy with what they have are those who realize that all the good they have is from G-d,Â ×•×©×ž×—×ª ×‘×›×œ ×”×˜×•×‘ ××©×¨ × ×ª×Ÿ ×œ×š ×”’ ××œ×§×™×š, And you will rejoice with all the good. How? By realizing that G-d gave it to youÂ (Roshei Besamim).
I met a close friend last week at the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem. I asked him whatâ€™s doing. He said to me, You gotta hear what R’ Loichter said in his schmooze last week.
×—×¨×˜×””, Regret, is not about feeling bad about the terrible things youâ€™ve done. ×—×¨×˜×” , Regret, is realizing how great you could have been.”
In Elul, we could split the Yeshiva world into two: people who utilize Elul as a time to feel bad over all the sins done throughout the year, and people who utilize Elul as a time to think about the great Jew I could have been. The difference is how you look at yourself when you are about to start a New Year. Are you looking forward to realizing your potential, or are you looking at yourself as an object of contempt? This may be why it is inappropriate to mention sins on Rosh Hashana. Because we are in the making of the new you for the new year. We donâ€™t need objects of contempt for the new year. We need people who realize their potential.
Napoleon Hill , in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, first published in 1937 and the forefather of most American self-help thought, gives us a concept that the way you think decides your fate. That rich people think like rich people, while poor people think like poor people. But Napoleon was preceded by our Talmud. Rava told Rabah, son of Mari, From where is this wisdom of the adage, that riches go after the rich, and that poverty goes after the poor? He said to him that we see in our Mishnah, that when the rich brought their Bikurim fruits, their first fruits of the season, to the Kohen, they brought them in baskets of gold and silver, while the poor brought their Bikurim in woven baskets. After giving the basket and fruits to the Kohen, the rich would take their baskets back home, while the poor, who had to scrape together what little they had to purchase the woven baskets, needed to leave their baskets with the Kohen in Yerushalayim.
Napoleon writes that the first thing you need in order to become rich is to tap into your dreams and your desire. You need to think big to make it big. All self-made millionaires took that route. And it canâ€™t just be a desire. Itâ€™s got to be a burning desire. You need to have your heart bleed for it.
I always teach my students that all the secrets of the self-made millionaire are the secrets of the self- made Talmid Chacham, or the self-made Tzaddik. There are only three books that are open on Rosh Hashanah. Tzaddik, Rasha, and the undecided are suspended for judgement on Yom Kippur. If you want to be with the Tzaddikim, you need to think big. Like they say in business â€œGo big, or go home.â€ Whatever you decide to do in life, do it par excellence. There is no place for the middle sized businesses. There is no book for the complacent Orthodox. A burning desire is the only way you can reach your potential next year, the only way you can make it into the book of Tzaddikim.
So, the first step in Elul is to realize who we really could be. To develop a desire for the â€œme of my dreamsâ€. And the next step is to focus on that desire long enough, until your desire becomes a burning desire. Because there are only two types of people in the world. Those who have a burning desire, and those whose desire burnt out.