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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

You are the only one in the race

Daf Yomi Yevamos 24

The great Chasidic master, Reb Zusha of Anipoli used to say: When I get to Heaven, they’re not going to ask me, ‘How did you match up to Abraham?  Or how did you match up to Moses?’  No, they’re going to ask me, ‘How did you match up to Zusha?’

The Mishnah states:  Two unrelated men married two sisters but we do not know which man betrothed which sister.  Then both men died in a freak roller-coaster accident while they were on their joint honeymoon.   Each of the deceased had two brothers, one of whom from each family is required to perform the levirate marriage (yibum) by marrying his brother’s widow.  But which one is his brother’s widow?

The problem is that if he chooses the wrong one to marry, he might be marrying his potential wife’s sister, which is forbidden.  Therefore, one from each family should perform the annulment (chalitzah) and then his brother may take the other sister in the levirate marriage.  If the two brothers from one family went ahead and both performed chalitzah, the two other brothers should not both perform yibum, since they cannot ascertain that they are marrying the right girl.  Rather, one should do chalitzah and then the other may do yibum.

However, if they went ahead without consulting the court and both did yibum, we permit them to stay married ex post facto.   The Gemara explains why: Each one may say that he happened to marry the girl that was right for him.

Here we have two men who turn around and say, ‘Hey, look, if I married her, then she was obviously my basherte (soul-mate) – it was meant to be.  This is the path that G-d paved for me!’  Says the Talmud: We accept that argument.  If only we all saw the hand of G-d in every step as He guides us through life.

Every person has their own special destiny.  Your strengths and weaknesses were custom-made for your opportunities and challenges.  The greatest nod of recognition you can give the Almighty is when you acknowledge that the lot in life you received was the portion that was meant for you.

Many people spend a lifetime comparing themselves to everyone around them.  As Reb Zusha taught, the only one you’re competing against in your race is you.  It doesn’t matter if your neighbour is richer, smarter, more learned, fitter, better-looking or kinder.  The Almighty wants to know how Zusha compares to Zusha.  How are you matching up to your potential in life?  G-d has given you all the right ingredients to make it happen.  Are you utilizing them to your fullest ability?


Your Portion in life is a custom-made Porsche that has all everything you need to succeed.  Recognize the hand of G-d, every step of the way.  If you max out on fulfilling the potential the Almighty has granted you, the day will come when you won’t hesitate when they ask you ‘How did you match up to Zusha?’!