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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Surmountable Odds

By Rabbi Sender Haber

Yaacov Avinu was able to uncover the well for Rachel when all of the shepherds could not. He cared for her and he wanted her to be able to water the sheep and go home.

How did he do it? Rashi tells us that he had superhuman strength. He was able to lift the stone like someone might pop a cork out of a bottle.

Yaacov did not lift the stone with his muscles; he lifted it with his heart. In Tefillas Geshem we say “Yichad lev v’gal even m’al be’er mayim”. He united his heart and all of his concentration into lifting the stone from atop the well. It was an impossible task but he did it because he wanted to with all his heart.

We come across so many impossible tasks in life. There are so many things that we just can’t do. Have we really tried? Have we ever given it all of our undivided and undiluted effort? There is no guarantee that we will succeed, but we will be rewarded for trying.

We ask Hashem to send us rain thousands of years later because Yaacov tried really hard. Trying is a really big deal and, in Yaakov’s case, it worked.

Reb Zalman Volozhiner was once sitting in his Beis Medrash learning when he realized that he needed to look something up. Unfortunately, the sefer was on a high shelf and was blocked by a heavy piece of furniture.

“Ribono shel Olam”, he said, “you did not put the Torah in the heavens or across the sea. You put it right here in this room for my benefit. Please give me the strength to get that sefer down to where I need it”.

He said this over and over before he was able to get up, move the bookcase and reach the sefer.

We would all do well to remind ourselves of our strength and to do things with our entire heart.

Good Shabbos.

(Based in part on an essays by Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz and his son Rav Avraham Shmuelevitz) 

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