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Mozhish Da. Nye' Chotshish!

Friday, 12 September, 2014 - 1:24 am

The News N’ Schmooze is just over a year old now.

For the past 52+ weeks, I’ve sat down at my computer, pondering --“What can I write about this week?” Invariably, something will come to mind. Either something in the the news or something that I observed -- framed by a Torah inspired lesson. 

To be honest, this week I’m struggling with what to write. I guess I could regale you with the still unfolding story of my box of 100 uncut shofars mysteriously sucked into oblivion, presumably littering some UPS warehouse in Oakland. But in truth – I have nothing POSITIVE to share about that story.

(Although, if the lesson is patience...I'm failing miserably) 

***

The Birthday of the Baal Shem Tov 

This Shabbat, the 18 of Elul, marks the Birthday of the Baal Shem Tov (as well as the Birthday of the Alter Rebbe, the First Rebbe of Chabad).

An early 18th century scholar and mystic, Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem was known for founding of the Chassidic movement. He restored Love of Fellow Man and Love of G-d to the cold, elitist, Jewish establishment that he encountered. He imparted warmth and life in Judaism. In addition, he restored the values of sincerity and emotional engagement to Jewish life.

One of the more famous sayings of the Ba’al Shem Tov, is that everything that one observes in life, must be used as a lesson in one's service of G-d. See something? LEARN something!

An example of this credo, is found is the famous story told about the Baal Shem Tov: He was once in the synagogue giving a class, and a gentile coachman knocked on the door. Covered in mud, the coachman was seeking someone to help out with a broken wheel on the fellow's wagon. The Baal Shem Tov, in the middle of his Torah lecture, deferred and said in Ukranian, “Nye Mozhish—I can’t”

The frustrated coachman’s bitter reply startled the assembled crowd, "Mozhish Da. Nye’ Chotchish!"

You can--but you don’t want to!

The Baal Shem Tov turned to his students, and true to his motto – he explained the lesson to be learned by the coachman's retort. How many times do we protest that we are unable to do something? How many times do we defer responsibility and avoid our divine service with the cry of Nye Mozhish? It’s Impossible! The  Baal Shem Tov said that we must always remember – We CAN, but we don’t want to.

***

In light of the Baal Shem Tov's teaching to look towards life for guidance and inspiration, in the weekly 'News and Schmooze', I try to look for the lessons behind the banality of life.   

So what lesson can I learn from my UPS fiasco? I’m still working on it, and still don't know... 

However… it’s gotten me thinking.

Shabbat Shalom,

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