TAKE ALL OF ME, THAT IS WHAT IT TAKES
Have you ever wondered, I did the same exact thing, performed the same practices as the other guy, but it didn’t work out for me? Why is that?
Many years ago the value of entrepreneurship in America began to become appreciated. Not only from the aspect of creating jobs and driving the economy, but from the notion of innovation, building & growing enterprises, of creating new worlds, new ecosystems that developed and grew from within and bettering all those the entrepreneur came in contact with ….suppliers, employees, families, communities and the world.
When we sent crews to capture education at “small business” symposiums, often I would meet executives from large businesses in attendance. “Why are you here, why does AT&T need to be at these seminars?” “What does Chase Bank hope to learn from these folk?”I heard back, “We want to learn the methods of breakthrough…how you guys come up with new ideas and grow them”….“My company sent me so I could bring back ways to create new initiatives, to get people behind our goals to move the company ahead in high growth directions.”
Back then, large companies in pursuit of the entrepreneurial magic came up with what became a buzz phrase in the corporate world, “intrapreneurship”. That is to back intrapreneurs, individuals in corporations, to establish new successful frontiers. You could read about intrapreneurship everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds of millions were invested into intrapreneurs providing individuals at many major companies, all the tools and money they needed to develop and nurture new worlds within their respective organizations.
Ultimately, the concept of intrapreneurship failed. The NY Times did a study that revealed why. It found that the individuals chosen to pursue and grow these new entities were given too much, provided everything they needed; financing, resources, connections and practices, leaving nothing really for them to pain for, to dig down deep for. The missing ingredient was the soul of the typical entrepreneur. It was that inner drive, that passion, the unseen realization that perhaps the most valuable characteristic of a business builder what was found turning inward ,turning on the passion, striving and belief within. What came from being all alone in their world without having everything needed. The explosion of necessary energy coming from the knowing, it is what is within me that was the driving force to the success, growth and expression of a successful entrepreneur. The ability to start and/or carry on is found in the inner being tapped into “I believe” from the sense of alone-ness of ultimately being that one. So, the big companies failed because they removed the possibility of tapping into that, the inner search, reach and touch that brings on the passion and total commitment to blossom.
After Avraham’s servant followed through on everything that Avraham advised him on and then successfully completing the journey of finding the one who would be the one, the Soul Mate of Isaac, we find Isaac prior to meeting Rebecca, … “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at eventide; and he lifted up his eyes and saw and behold Rebecca lifted up her eyes….” Isaac did it! He found his perfect customer, the connect was made and he made that sale!
We are told by many a commentator that “meditate” was prayer and possibly the initiation of our Mincha/afternoon service. Rav Kook has a beautiful analysis on the word for meditate – lasu’ach. He shares an idea from the Rashbam that it comes from the word si’ach meaning plant. He compliments that thought with a concept from Rashbam’s Grandfather, Rashi explaining that lasu’ach comes from sichah, meaning speech, bringing us to the idea of prayer.
Now applying an outstanding remark from Avraham Joshua Heschel “Prayer may not save a man, but it makes a man worthy of saving” (you gotta think about that for a bit) let’s briefly explore the thoughts presented in this writing.
Why would Isaac feel it necessary to go meditate, pray on this occasion? After what he experienced in the Akeida, the successful life he was living, following his father Avraham, the visionary leader par excellence orchestrate this mission of finding the right shiddach (match). It was done, slam dunk, Isaac would get his girl! Why pray? Was it the substitute for a sacrifice (it is held our prayer is in substitute for sacrifice)? At that time, when sacrifices were done, if he was thankful and wanted to show gratitude, why not offer a sacrifice. The prophets and scripture tells us on a number of occasions from G-d’s point of view..“I don’t need your sacrifices, your offerings..” We find in Heschel’s work on prayer, that in proper prayer WE are the sacrifice, WE are to approach prayer with the intent, the Kavanah to dig down to give it our all, to give all of ourselves for Hashem and for us. He writes that “each word of prayer has a soul.” Rav Kook says “ The soul is always praying, It constantly seeks to fly away to its Beloved.”……”prayer is only an external expression of this inner prayer of the soul……we must be aware of the constant yearnings of the soul.” ….The soul that wants to rise and I may add…to lift up.
Heschel writes on the challenges of how people pray today (while written 50 plus years ago, how true today) “we say words but make no decisions, forgetting that in prayer words are commitments…” Heschel communicates on issues of teaching the American Jewish Community, we forget that it is the process of learning, the total struggle of making the effort to learn is what earns the reward, not the knowing. It is the struggle, with 100% commitment to our connection that is worthy. He relates the story of a congregant passing the Rabbi’s house in Poland past midnight and not seeing the light on in his study, leading to the dismissal of that Rabbi for not be committed to learning all the time.
So, the connect, Isaac as our next visionary knew that it was not going to be intrapreneurship that would make him worthy of connecting to that customer found for him. He knew that the heritage, the nation, the entity that would come from him and Rebecca would require him to dig into that inner being to reach and to touch what is inside. To make it work, he had to tap into that soul that indeed is connected to G-d. That is why he had to go alone, to pray, to tap into the inner seeds that would plant and blossom into what is now the Jewish Enterprise of eternity. That is is the essence and value of prayer.
Last year at this time in the Hebrew Calendar, we saw people devastated by Sandy, truly praying, individuals rising….tapping into their selves, that I think were selves unaware to them until now. A process enabling people to overcome the daunting challenges in front of them. Others, sacrificing self for the greater good..that is prayer that propels, for ourselves and all around, that is the power of true prayer, the honest internalization of who we are, who we are talking to and who we can be…..it starts with me, all of me, talking to, begging Hashem to take all of me to get to where I must get to. That is what it takes to be “worthy of saving.”
Zvi Hersh ben Naftali HaKohain