THE BORSALINO BLUFF
Parashat Naso/ Shavuoth
At the Shabbat table last week, I played a game with my children. I started off a fill-in-the-blank statement, and they needed to generate more sentences on the same line.
With money, you can buy a clock, but not time. With money, you can buy medicine, but not health. With money, you can buy a mansion, but not tranquility at home. With money, you can buy a bed, but not a good nightâ€™s sleepâ€¦ Maybe you can add some, yourself.
My 12 year old son had a great filler. With money, you can buy a streimel, Borsalino black hat or yarmulke, but not Fear of Heaven. His older brother added, “With money, you can buy sefarim, but not Torah knowledge”.
At the end of the day, everything valuable has a price, and to achieve your desired life value, you usually need to pay the price in full, and in advance. The price of health is usually proper eating habits, exercise, sleep, doctor visit, and stress management. The price of a tranquil home is making it home for dinner, Triple A (Attention, Affection, and Appreciation), filling your familyâ€™s needs, and stress management. The price of a good nightâ€™s sleep is time management, family management, digital addiction management, and you guessed it, stress management. And most of the time, people are more readily willing to pay the price of external things, like money, resources, and other â€œthingsâ€, than they are willing to pay the price of those really personal sacrifices. I.e., letting go of the past, admitting mistakes, adapting patience, ignoring comments, and tapping into the trait of resourcefulness.
But what is the price you need to pay to become a Talmid Chacham? Is it just getting a big fat Oz Vehadar Gemarah, a good study partner, a good seat in the Beit Midrash, and getting into a top shiur?
The ingredients to bake a Talmid Chacham is in the Mishna in the last chapter of Avot,(6;5) that lists the 48 ×§× ×™×™× ×™×, or ways to acquire Torah. If you are a yeshiva student, and you do not know that list well and are not working on it, it is like driving your car without any motor oil. You will burn out your engine before you reach your desired destination. If you are learning and not becoming wise, not seeing success, I guarantee you that most probably you are missing at least one of those 48 ingredients. The Talmud teaches that a person can know that he will not be successful in learning, if after five years of learning he did not yet see any positive results (Hullin 24a). But until you keep to those 48 things, you have never really given yourself a chance. You have never started your 5 years.
One of my favorites is Brian Tracyâ€™s book â€œ21 Secrets of the Self-made Millionaireâ€. It really spells out in a concise and clear way the main traits of those who became wealthy. When coaching people for making a livelihood, I know that none of these 21 traits can be missing to attain true financial success. You see, these ingredients are the basic ingredients; if you do not follow them, if you do not enter all of the missing ingredients into your dough, if you did not follow the instructions, you have never really tried to bake your parnassah cake.
If you want to become a Talmid Chacham, you need to view your learning like a business man views his business. People who made money, worked hard to make money. In the Torah world, people are commonly referred to as either a â€œworking guyâ€ or a â€œlearning guyâ€. This black and white thinking works against us, because the words of our inner lexicon pave the pathways of our thinking, and these two life â€œsituationsâ€, learning or working, are not mutually exclusive. Even if you are a learning guy, your learning will not be fruitful, if you do not relate to your learning as if you are working.
People who made money did not need their money to make their initial money, but their work ethic was their key to success. Many got up at 5 a.m. to maximize their workday, beat traffic and capitalize on those morning hours, when focusing is so much easier. The rule of 40+ hours a week says that you need to spend more time than the average 40 hours a week of work, to be ahead of the business game and attain wealth. You need to work all the time you work, with a minimum of socializing, as that can be a formidable source of procrastination. The people who are in the really high income brackets of self earned wealth practice frugality, questioning every expenditure. One such wealthy man I personally know, does not allow the secretaries in his office to print on only one side of a piece of paper, just to keep the frugality atmosphere in the office. These are all just a few of the ingredients of the self made millionaire. And the same is true in acquiring Torah.
Successful students come to the study hall on time and leave on time, without wasting a minute in between, just as if they were at work. No socializing. They come earlier than expected and leave after everyone else. They are willing to give up worldly pleasures, practicing frugality, and they are willing to pay the price of the 48 characteristics one needs in order to become a Talmid Chacham.
It is not one specific ingredient of the 48 ingredients that make the Talmid Chacham. It is what Brian Tracy calls the Law of Integrated Complexity. The more strengths, knowledge and resources you integrate into your business model, the greater the sum total of your performance. The total becomes greater than the sum of its individual parts. The more skills a person has – the better and more proficient the all-around successful will be.
The same is true in regards to your performance in learning Torah. The more you acquire of these 48 ingredients, the more unstoppable you become.