Friday, November 09, 2007
“He relocated from there and dug another well; they did not quarrel over it, so he called its name Rechovot, and said, ‘For now Hashem has granted us ample space, and we can be fruitful in the land.’”
The Torah, at great length, describes to us in detail about the wells and how every time they were dug, the Philistines would block them up again and again. Rabbi Aaron Bakst raises the following question; what is so significant about these wells and how they finally came to be?
There are times when a person begins a project but unfortunately, it fails to take off and thus, he takes it as a sign from heaven that it just wasn’t destined to be and he gives up and moves on. However, the Torah teaches us, this may be the wrong attitude.
The story of the wells and how it took many attempts until they finally went untouched, shows us that we must not ever give up when we hit an obstacle. Nor should we view it as a sign that in heaven what we are doing is not desirable, rather it is imperative that we get up and go for it again – and again – upon which Hashem will bestow us with the divine assistance our project needs, and then will we succeed.
What we must take out of this Parsha is the importance of perseverance and how when we face significant challenges, we must dwell not on the obstacle but on the path.
The following vignette from the Talmud (Eiruvin 54b) is a telling example of how true and crucial the concept of perseverance is.
The Tanna, Rabbi Preida, was once giving a lecture to his students. There was one student who did not grasp the point that R’ Preida had explained. Again and again, he repeated it but it fell on deaf ears. The student just wouldn’t get it.
R’ Preida kept his calm and did not give up. Eventually, after repeating it for the 400th time (!), the student finally got it. As a result, he was given the choice of two rewards – one that would benefit him personally (to live 400 years), and the other that would benefit everyone (a guaranteed portion in the World to Come for him and his entire generation). After choosing the latter, Hashem rewarded him with both!
On a personal note, I have seen how many times, projects for the benefit of the public have failed initially but thanks to the dedication of those behind them, they flourished enriching the lives of the recipients and benefiting countless others.
As one philosopher once said, “The obstacle is the path.”
By keeping this in mind next time we begin a project, we will do ourselves, as well as those we intend to serve, a tremendous service and succeed beyond what we ever imagined possible.
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