Marg and Joe have started spending more and more time each year in Florida.
“I’ve worked hard in my life, rabbi, I’ve earned it,” Joe said to me on a recent visit back home.
“Our needs are simple,” added Marg, “we’ve made enough money to retire early and we’re satisfied with our lives.”
The prophet Yechezkel (Ezekiel) chastised the people, “He took upon great waters, [they] placed it as a mountain willow.”
Rabbi Abahu explains that G-d is saying: I wanted Israel to be like a willow that grows upon great waters, but they placed themselves as a mountain willow. From here we derive that a mountain willow is inferior to one that grows by the water and therefore unfit for use on Sukkot.
Picture the mountains and then picture the ocean. Both are incredible scenes of natural beauty. Some people train for years to master the highest mountains, and it is an accomplishment indeed to scale the summit of Everest.
But then what? So you’ve conquered the highest place on earth, what’s left to achieve now?
The prophet is admonishing us that we do not grasp our G-d-given potential. We think that to reach the mountains is the greatest achievement we can aspire to. But if we would only dare to imagine our potential, we would realize that the Almighty has blessed us with the potential to achieve greatness as vast as the earth’s seas!
You are a Divine being. G-d fashioned you in His image. Don’t settle on reaching to the mountaintops. Your potential is almost limitless. Just when you think you have peaked, remember that G-d has created you with near-infinite possibilities and opportunities, as many as the drops of water in the ocean!
As long as you are alive, G-d doesn’t want you to stop. You are here because you can make a difference in the world. If you are still on this earth, that means that you have yet to reach your peak, you have yet to completely fulfill your potential! Soar ever higher above the mountaintops for you are an angel of the Almighty G-d!