Rabbi Aron Moss tells the following story:
A rabbi was once called to a hospital to see a teenager who was suicidal. Feeling that he was a good-for-nothing who could not get anything right, the boy had attempted to take his own life. But even his suicide attempt failed.
The rabbi arrived at the hospital and before he could even say hello, the boy said, “If you are here to tell me what the priest just told me, you can leave now.”
Taken aback, the rabbi asked, “What did the priest say?”
“He told me that G-d loves me,” replied the teen, “What a load of rubbish! Why would G‑d love me?”
It was a good point. This kid could see nothing about himself that was worthy of love. He had achieved nothing in his life; he had no redeeming features, nothing that was beautiful or respectable or lovable. So why would G-d love him? The rabbi needed to touch this boy without patronizing him. He had to say something real. But what do you say to someone who sees himself as worthless?
“You may be right,” said the rabbi, “maybe G-d doesn’t love you. But one thing’s for certain. He needs you.”
While we are allowed to prepare food on Yom Tov, we may only perform tasks that could not be carried out prior to the festival. And so one may slaughter meat on the festival, but you may not hunt animals, since it could have been done prior to the holy day.
The Mishnah states that one may trap an animal that is enclosed in a corral. The Gemara brings a Beraisa, however, that seems to suggest otherwise. The Talmud concludes that one may take animals from a small corral, but not a large one. But what’s considered small and what’s considered large?
Rav Ashi offers three distinctions between small and large corrals. Firstly, in a small corral, you can catch an animal in a single lunge. A large corral would require greater effort. Secondly, a large corral has many corners for the animal to run to, whereas a small corral is much more limited. Thirdly, the shadows of the walls of a small corral reach the other walls, which is not the case in a large corral.
The word for animal is chaya, which is also the word for ‘living.’ G-d expects great things from you in life. And so He grants you with the power to achieve greatness in the huge corral of life. How do you know if you are reaching your potential?
Rav Ashi says that if you can reach your chaya in a single lunge, you are aiming too small. Aim higher, shoot bigger, you have the potential to achieve so much more!
But if you are dreaming without any limits because you don’t want to close yourself off in any corners, you need to focus. Nobody can do everything! You need to figure out what your talents are and develop them, because ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none.’ Aiming high doesn’t mean shooting to achieving everything. It means choosing a direction and striving to be the best in that area.
Sometimes a field may already be overcrowded. If you feel that the shadows of the competition are looming above you, it might be too small a coral to achieve greatness. Find a niche that you can be the best in! The Almighty created every human being individually. You have a unique contribution to make to the world; the challenge is to discover it.
Every day, four times a day, we ask the Almighty to “grant us our portion in your Torah.” Every person has a special part to add to the world. What is your special task? The young man in the story couldn’t go on just thinking that G-d loved him. G-d doesn’t just love you, G-d needs you and when you strive to achieve your unique mission, G-d’s purpose for creating you and placing you on this earth is accomplished. You have a special task that nobody else can fulfil!
Inside of you is a part of G-d. The Almighty wants you to achieve greatness in all areas of your life – spiritual, material, educational, psychological, and interpersonal! Remember Rav Ashi’s three keys to success: Never settle for mediocrity, always stay focused, and seek to discover why the world needs you!
You can do better than an O.K. Corral! Strive for an Epic Corral!!