Parshas Nitzavim- Special Rosh Hashana Edition
You Can Do It! There is Nothing Stopping You!
“The thing [Torah] is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it”. (Devorim 30:14)
In 1977, Laura Schultz, 63, was in the kitchen of her home in Tallahassee, Florida, when she heard her 6-year-old grandson screaming from the driveway outside. Schultz ran to the door to find her grandson pinned beneath the rear tire of a full-size Buick. Giving no consideration to limitations or barriers, Schultz ran to the car, used one hand to lift the rear of the vehicle and used the other hand to drag her grandson to safety.
For years, Schultz refused to speak about the incident. After finally agreeing to an interview with peak performance coach Dr. Charles Garfield, Schultz was asked why she’d remained silent about her miracle.
Schultz revealed that the incident had scared her and reminded her that she’d wasted most of her life living far beneath her true potential.
With a little coaching from Garfield, Schultz returned to college, earned her degree and went on, at nearly 70 years of age, to fulfill her long-held dream of becoming a college professor.
Whatever you may now be telling yourself that you can’t do, do it! It’s never too late to summon forth the full extents of your G-D-given potential. (Goodreads.com)
The Midrash Tanchuma (Parshas Vayelech) brings a story involving the prophet Eliyahu. Eliyahu was once traveling on a road where he met a man who mocked and scorned him. Eliyahu asked the man what he would respond on Judgement Day, when he would be asked why he didn’t learn Torah. The man had a quick response. He would say that Hashem did not give him the necessary wisdom or understanding to be able to learn Torah. Clearly if he didn’t have the ability, he couldn’t be blamed for not learning. Eliyahu asked the man what he did for a living. The man said that he was a fisherman and hunter of birds. Eliyahu then asked the man how he learned to take flax and weave it into nets for his fishing and hunting. And, who taught him how to hunt effectively and how to successfully sell his catch. To that the man responded that Hashem gave him the wisdom to do those things. Eliyahu said, “For … [all this] Hashem gave you wisdom and understanding, but to acquire Torah Hashem did not give you understanding?!” The Torah says, “The thing [Torah] is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it”. (Devorim 30:14) Immediately, after hearing these words, the fisherman reflected for a moment and started crying bitterly. He realized that Eliyahu was correct. He had lived life fooling himself that he was not capable of learning Torah. Eliyahu told him not to get depressed (see the commentary of the Eitz Yosef). Everyone will be faced with the same question of why they didn’t learn Torah (or why didn’t they do certain mitzvos) when they truly had the ability to do so.
The yetzer hara tricks us into thinking we are incapable of learning Torah (or to learn more Torah) or doing certain mitzvos, when, truthfully, we do have the ability to do so. Each one of us has many G-D given abilities. As Rosh Hashana approaches, we should stop for a moment to think. Then we will realize that we all can apply ourselves to reach greater spiritual heights. We can all improve our actions, in some way, and come closer to Hashem. If we haven’t yet started, we should not become discouraged. Hashem eagerly awaits our sincere improvements (and repentance) as a loving father waits for a child.
We all have latent abilities that we can harness. All we need to do is stop for a moment and think. We can use those capabilities to come closer to Hashem by learning Torah, doing mitzvos, and improving our middos.