The Titanic failed but Hashem’s plan always sailed!
It was called the “Ship of Dreams”. The Titanic was the poster child of modern innovation and technology. With its 46,000 tons of steel and sixteen watertight compartments, the ship was deemed “unsinkable.” Yet, a mere four days after its departure from Southampton, it struck an iceberg and, tragically, within four hours 1500 lives had been lost. The dream had sunk, and the world was stunned.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to fulfill our dreams? Who doesn’t wish for their dreams to come true? Yet the dream so often stays a dream. It’s the Torah that tells us how.
The world is well aware of Moses’ revolutionary call—speaking truth to power— to “Let my people go…” What’s less famous is the second half of his demand— “so that they may serve (G-d).” After their exodus from Egyptian slavery, the Jews immediately began to prepare for the impossible—building a home for G-d Almighty on this earth. Over the course of 197 verses in the Book of Exodus, the Torah tells of G-d’s precise instructions as to how to build this Temple—the Tabernacle. But the Torah spends an entire portion that seems to tell us nothing new, other than the fact that the Jews actually built it! In 212 additional verses this week, we’re told of every detail of this construction.
In a letter dated March 5, 1951, the Rebbe points out that, though the Torah is usually terse in its language, the lengthy repetition of this chapter is here to teach us how to turn our dreams into reality. In a beautiful way, the Torah is showing us that, once G-d commands us to do something, it becomes entirely possible for us to achieve. All we need to do is to make the effort and then G-d will bless our actions with the success that leads to completion. But the critical detail is for us to believe we can. When G-d asks us to do something, we are automatically endowed with the capabilities to make it happen. Unlike a mortal, who doesn’t truly know the capacity of his subject, G-d, the Creator of the Universe, knows our essence—He created us! Obstacles, problems, and other people can’t stop you. Only you can stop you!
Rabbi Eliyahu Friedman of Safed visited an Antwerp, Belgium philanthropist named Asher Nusbaum, to raise funds for the Yeshivah. When Reb Asher heard that Rabbi Friedman represented a Chabad institution, he promised to make a donation but asked to share a story first:
“I once learned of an auction for merchandise taking place in Switzerland. Unsure if I should buy, I decided to ask the Rebbe for advice. The Rebbe advised me to estimate the amount I expected to earn from the transaction and set aside twenty percent of that amount for tzedakah (charity). Then, the Rebbe said, I should go ahead and buy the merchandise, and with G-d’s help I would realize the profit.
“That’s what I did. I set aside a very large sum for tzedakah, went to the auction, and bought the lot. My plan was to wait for the value to rise and (then) sell; meanwhile, I took a vacation with my family, but when I returned, the price still had not risen. Time passed, and to my great disappointment, the market price steadily plummeted. By this time, I wasn’t thinking about profit anymore; I just wanted to cut my losses. I’m a businessman, a practical person by nature, and I wrote another letter describing this development to the Rebbe, complaining that his promise hadn’t panned out.
“A few days later I received a response: ‘The Torah promises, “Tithe, so that you become wealthy;” surely this guarantee will be fulfilled. Don’t worry about the price drop; be patient.’ So, I held onto the goods, and eventually, the price rose far higher than I had ever expected, bringing a massive profit.”
Asher concluded: “The fact that the price of goods went up is no miracle; markets rise and fall. The miracle is the Rebbe’s absolute certainty that one doesn’t lose by giving charity, and the firmness of declaration that the Torah’s words must come true.”
With this amazing attitude, nothing can stand in the way of our success! Echoing this same sentiment, a member of our Shul told me yesterday that, though most charitable people pledge their tithe when they sell, he calculates and pledges his tithe when he buys! Doing so assures him of G-d’s empowering blessing for success from the minute the deal sets sail! And he consistently sees the most extraordinary success in business each and every time he does so!
Rabbi Avraham Alter Heber, a businessman from Kiryat Malachi, Israel, asked the Rebbe how it’s possible to manage his many pressing responsibilities—to G-d, his family, his job, and to his fellow Jew. The Rebbe explained that the key is to decide that you can do it.
For your dreams to come true, you need to believe in yourself, and the powers vested in you by G-d Almighty—that you can do it! Your marriage can be wholesome and loving. Your relationship with your children could be nurturing and authentic. You can be successful in your work. You can live a life filled with Jewish rituals and observance. You can be well-versed in Torah. You can live a life of dignity and honor. Because G-d has commanded you to do all these things, they are within your reach. Don’t give up on your dreams just yet.
As our ancestors built a home for G-d in this recent Torah portion, our community too completed a holy Torah for G-d as well. In both cases, the Divine Presence has rested upon our efforts. You too are more powerful than you ever realized. It’s time to make miracles happen.
May we all succeed in stopping ourselves from stopping ourselves!
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
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