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Take a Hike!

Friday, 8 June, 2018 - 10:08 am

A few weeks back, my father-in-law called me, and kinda freaked me out. He reminded me that he’s still in the year of mourning for his dad, Professor Irving Block, and will need at least one Minyan per day so he could say Kaddish while in Bozeman. I knew it was possible but didn’t think it was probable. Yet, with LOTS of Nudging we pulled it off, as 26 different guys came together Friday through Monday to make it happen. It reminded me something vital: No challenge is insurmountable, no obstacle too hard to overcome and nothing, truly nothing, is impossible for a person to achieve when they are determined and devoted to making it work.

In this week’s fascinating Torah portion, Shlach, we read about Moses’ spies sent on a reconnaissance mission to scout out the Holy Land. With Joshua and Caleb in the righteous minority, the ten other spies reported back that the Holy Land is unconquerable. Its people are mighty, its cities are super fortified, and its fruit are enormous and super natural. They acted like an amateur hiker looking up at the Absaroka Range or like me looking at the mighty “M” in Bozeman and saying, “Hell no, I will never be able to climb that trail”. Except that the spies - like me and all the amateur hikers - were wrong. One time, a wagon got stuck in the mud, and the gentile driver asked the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov for help. The disciples replied: “We’re sorry, but we aren’t strong enough to lift it.” The man replied: “You can, but you don’t want to.”

Being a realist is not a bad thing and it was no mistake for the spies to see the real challenges that existed. Yet, they made a very wrong turn, when their realism turned into pessimism. I struggle in this regard: I love when I’m in control, I love when things go my way and I can’t stand it, it makes my blood boil, when it doesn’t. Yet, I am working on myself, working through my emotions, my feelings, to recognize that which Chassidism has tried to teach me all along: Ignoring the challenges before us is delusional; seeing them, acknowledging them, and then unleashing our inner reservoirs of courage to take them head on, is a very Jewish thing. Caleb and Joshua did it, so can we.

Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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