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Parshas Mikeitz - Consistency Increase Capacity; Consistency Breeds Success            29 Kislev 5780

12/27/2019 09:53:35 AM


A few years ago I took some flak for quoting a non-Jewish source as support for a dvar Torah message that I wrote. The intent was not, Chas V’Shalom/Heaven forbid to imply that we need a source outside of Torah to prove a point, especially where there are Torah sources to support everything. Rather, I used this quote as something contemporary, something everyone could relate to today. With this disclaimer, I present to you this week’s message!

Does Jerry Seinfeld still work so hard? Jerry Seinfeld’s response to this question is a master class in achieving incredible success. According to Jerry Seinfeld, his simple approach will never let you down.

Seinfeld is famous for his joke-writing routine. Early on he realized the only way to become a better comedian is to write better jokes -- and the only way to write better jokes is to write every day. So, he purchased a large wall calendar, hung it in his office, and every day after writing a new joke, he marked a red X over the date. He remarked, “After a few days, you'll have a chain; just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain."

Seinfeld further explained that he read an article that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, 'Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don't I know how to do this already?' The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop."

You can't control other people. You can't control timing. You can't control luck. When you think about it, there are very few things you can control except how hard -- and how consistently -- you work. So, if your definition of success includes, at least in part, traditional measures like wealth and professional achievement, consistent effort is the great equalizer.

In a few days thousands upon thousands of Jews from across the globe will be celebrating the seven-and-a-half-year journey through the sea of Talmud. The thirteenth Siyum HaShas will take place on January 1st, 2020. (Actual completion will be on Sunday January 5th) with venues in MetLife stadium in New Jersey to countless communities, Shuls and Batei Midrashim throughout the world. For those who are not familiar with this event, please Google it and be awestruck by the magnitude and the incredible effect Daf Yomi and the once-every-seven-and-a-half-year event has had on the Jewish people throughout the last century. There are many benefits to those who learn the daily page of Talmud and to those who support it. Recent interviews of wives and children of those who learn Daf Yomi explained the benefits they received and continue to feel through the Daf Yomi initiative in which their families participate. But to the individual, what is the primary benefit? Isn’t all and any Torah learning great? The answer is of course! All Torah learning is wonderful and great, but Daf Yomi and many other daily learning regimens give the student an increased capacity to learn as well as an increase in success in learning overall. Every day a person checks the box of another page, eventually to a chapter’s end, heading to the completion of an entire tractate. Ultimately, one looks back, realizing with awe that a number of Gemaros were knocked off, adding to the enthusiasm of beginning to complete one order after another and before long the entire Shas (Shisha Sidrei) is completed.

There is a tremendous amount of stamina necessary to carry this and other consistent processes through to completion. One can ask; “Is it because someone has the innate ability prior to beginning Daf Yomi which sets up the consistency required for day in and day out learning? Or is it an after-the-fact matter that once the person accomplishes the feat he recognizes the daily struggle and challenge which creates the perseverance? It is clear purpose and resolve that gives a person the drive to accomplish that which he sets out to do. This idea is found in the story of Chanukah and the episode of Yosef managing the food supply to Egypt and the other peripheral nations seeking out food during the region’s famine.

In this week’s Parshas Mikeitz the Torah states in Bereishis 42: 6 "ויוסף הוא השליט על הארץ, הוא המשביר לכל עם הארץ, ויבואו אחי יוסף וישתחוו לו אפים ארצה" “Joseph was like a dictator over the land, since he was the only one who rationed out food for all the people. When Joseph’s brothers arrived, they prostrated themselves to him, with their faces to the ground”. The Midrash Tanchuma 42:8 explains that Yosef himself sold the food, and why? Since he did not want to appoint anyone else to be responsible for the sale of food, he knew his family would eventually come down to Egypt to buy food. Therefore, he wanted to be the actual salesperson, enabling him to recognize his brothers when they arrived; they would receive food directly from him. The Ramban explains that it is not befitting a ruler of a land, second in rank to the king of Egypt, that he sell everyone a se’ah [a dry measure] or a half thereof of grain. It was for this reason that our Rabbis were impelled to say that Yosef had ordered at that time that all storehouses except one be closed so that he would be sure to meet his brothers. The Ramban continues to explain that this is in line with the literal interpretation of the passuk: it is possible that the people from all lands came before him, and he would question and investigate them. He would then command the officers to sell so much food to the people of that particular city. Therefore, it became necessary for his brothers, among all those who came from the land of Canaan, to come before him allowing him the opportunity to issue an order especially for them to support his father and family back home.

One could only imagine how busy Yosef would be as second in command to Pharoah. Yet, he felt it necessary to streamline the buying/selling of the grain supply to everyone and anyone who arrived to purchase. Not only was he directly involved in the sale, he was also interviewing and questioning those customers to determine what and how much food to sell them. This scenario undoubtedly took place seven days a week and well beyond regular business hours. Yosef did this on top of and in addition to his regular responsibilities. He was on a mission that required a daily focus and could not risk missing even one day for fear his family would show up that day, causing him to miss them. Each and every day that passed would ultimately bring them closer to seeing them. (Although Chazal tell us the Bnei Yisroel were the first to come from Canaan). Yosef was determined to meet up with his brothers. It would take a daily regimen on the part of Yosef to being the only person to mete out the task necessary to guarantee his success. He displayed consistency to every day and every customer. He was the only one who administered the distribution.

Perhaps it was Yosef’s tenacity and commitment that has been handed down to future generations of Jews to accomplish things, particularly in learning, to be consistent day in and day out, never missing a day, regardless of how many other things requiring attention. There is no question that this has contributed to our increased capacity to learn and retain much more than ever before and to feel and live the success for ourselves, our families, and all of Klal Yisrael. Chazak Chazak V’Nischazeik!

Ah Gut Shabbos & Ah Lichtiga Chanukah Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Sun, June 20 2021 10 Tammuz 5781