Sign In Forgot Password

Parshas Matos/Maasei - Process + Results = Growth        25 Tammuz 5780

07/17/20 13:41:53


Time keeps marching on as we now enter the second trimester of the year, continuing to live in an eerie, ever-changing world. Each one of us has dealt with the trials of this situation differently - some better, -some worse. From the outset I recommended a number of suggestions for people to inculcate into their lives and daily routine. This included, but was by no means limited to reading, exercising, walking outside, finding a hobby, taking on projects that will provide you with a sense of accomplishment during the pandemic. These were suggested outside of family time.Developing the ability to refine learning and davening help to also develop deeper introspection, seeking out the greater meaning of life.

I try to follow my own advice, although truthfully, it is hard for me, too; I don’t always manage to follow my own advice. There were two things I did accomplish, however. One of them was more geared to my son, but we both derived great pleasure and satisfaction and a long-term benefit from the experience. I knew we needed some added activity and distraction during the early days of Covid-19, so I bought a new basketball hoop for the backyard. I gave over the task and the reins to my son to put the hoop together. The process took approximately five days from the time we bought it until the first shot. The assembling of the hoop was an extremely detailed process requiring many steps. The instructions were broken up into ten major parts with about ten steps in each section. My son methodically laid out all the hardware, garnering all the necessary tools to beginning this journey of unchartered territory. All of this was a totally new challenge for him. . In the assembly of such an item, no corners can be cut; every step is necessary, and each step must be performed in that exact order. Unfortunately, (later on you come to realize the fortunate side of looking at something) mistakes were made on the way that required going back a few steps and undoing everything which we had labored to meticulously complete while working in the hot sun with sweaty palms and tired muscles. But as soon as we realized we’d made a mistake, we went back and undid it. With the knowledge we gained from each mistake, we were able to proceed with a deeper level of confidence, going forward to the next level. Ultimately, as the assembly progressed, a bigger picture of the final product came into view and we had a better understanding of how each piece, screw, nut, and placement of the items began to fit. And so our confidence grew, while still grappling with mistakes. Yes, some dejection crept in, but our persistence and determination kept us focused on the end goal.

A second project, more of a hobby that I took on, was advanced through the generosity of Jim and Libbe Sherman who gave away some mini cherry tomato plants. Up until now the only way I experienced somewhat of a “green thumb” was to take a green magic marker and color my thumb. For some who are familiar with one of my philosophies is that each and everyone one of us has the ability to do anything in life we put our minds and effort to accomplish. So, I took a number of these little plants and followed the basic instructions. One of the challenges I personally faced is not knowing if I am doing it the “right way” or not. A separate challenge is that it is not a project of instant gratification. There are many steps a a few weeks along the way from initially planting these little seedlings to experiencing the pleasure of eating that first tomato. I planted a total of eight plants, and I’m hoping that at least one will survive and produce. The jury is still out on the plants. I made a few mistakes along the way, requiring that I go back and correct them, but with those corrections came stronger results in the steps that followed. To date, some of the plants are doing better than others, but flowers are sprouting which is a good sign that the fruit is not far behind.

We see from both examples that the process is an important component of the entire project. Growth many times comes when we see and learn from the mistakes we make. Shlomo HaMelech presented his famous parable of a person who falls off his horse seven times, each time gets up and tries again. This teaches multiple lessons. Not only is it important for a person to get back up after he falls, but the process of falling down is almost necessary so that we can get back up again, each time a little stronger and a little wiser. The process itself adds value despite the extra work and time involved, for that is how we grow. This lesson is found in the Torah, as all lessons are.

In this week’s Parsha Matos/Maasei, the Torah states in Devarim 33:1 "אלה מסעי בני ישראל..." “These are the journeys of the Sons of Israel”. Reb Yaakov ben Chaim Asher Leiner in his sefer Sifsei Tzadikim (pub 1914 Pietrokov) describes this verse as referring to the entire world. This world is a world of rectification. Every single day a person has the opportunity to fix any mistake he made the previous day. Angels are referred to as “standing” as in standing still and not moving because they remain at one continuum – one level throughout their existence. The angels have no merits or the need to fix what happened in the past because they can not violate the word of God. Man, on the other hand, continuously moves either forward or backward, up or down throughout their entire existence. Mankind is always moving from one level to another. With regard to the Jewish people traveling with the Torah, the word “Eileh”/ These is used. The rule is that if it would say V’Eileh - and these - it would include everything in the past, connecting as a continuation from the past to the present and on to the future. But without the letter vav, it describes these going forward and not looking back. Rav Leiner explains the prior days needing correction. Someone who is wise will sever from the past sins and bad poor decisions and rectify the mistakes. This is how he interprets, “And they camped and they traveled”. The Jewish people continuously “traveled” from one madreigah to the next, going from one level to the next step up.

The basketball hoop has been a priceless addition and something that not only keeps us in physical shape today but helped to sharpen our minds, teaching us great life lessons through the process. Hopefully, with Siyata Dishmaya, with Heaven’s help, at some point Hashem will hopefully give the blessing of the tomato plants to yield their fruit. We should all receive help from the One above that all of our endeavors are met with blessing. Amen!

Ah Gut Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Mon, January 25 2021 12 Shevat 5781