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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Become a Rich Ironman

Daf Yomi Nedarim 38

Rabbi Leib Bolel is an ironman triathlete.  He is also the very successful Mara d’Asra (rabbinical authority) of Des Moines, Iowa.  Ironman triathlons are intense; they consist of a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride and then a marathon 26.2-mile run.  Suffice it to say, they’re not for the weak of heart, mind, or body.   Most people think that it’s about physical discipline, but the truth is it’s about psychological and spiritual discipline.  You see, Rabbi Leib Bolel is the ultimate servant of Heaven.

Rabbi Yochanan taught: Hashem only invests His presence upon the mighty, the wealthy, the wise, and the humble.  We derive all of these categories from Moshe.
Mighty, for the Torah states, “I grabbed the two tablets and thrust them from my two hands and broke them.”  And we learned that the tablets were six by six by three handbreadths of sapphire!
Wealthy, for the Torah states, “Carve for yourself (two new tablets),” meaning that the leftover carvings shall be for you to keep (enriching Moshe in the process).
Wise, for the Scriptures states, “You have withheld from him a little of G-d,” meaning that of the fifty gates of understanding, Moshe reached the forty-ninth.
Humble, for the Torah states, “Moshe was exceedingly humble.”

Many people associate spirituality with asceticism.  But in Judaism that is antithetical to spirituality.  Upon whom does G-d bestow His Shechina (presence)?  Upon the mighty, the wealthy, the wise, and the humble.  Judaism is all about perfection of every aspect of your life. 

We don’t shun physical might – you need to be mighty to be victorious over our enemies.  Imagine the Jewish people were all brains, no brawn.  Would the State of Israel be able to ward off multiple regimes seeking to destroy it?  That’s why I’m a huge fan of triathlete rabbis like Rabbis Leib Bolel and Gad Krebs.  These righteous individuals truly live by the dictum of “v’nishmartem m’od l’nafshoseichem” – mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body).  

We don’t shun material wealth - you need money to live.  You can’t learn Torah if you’re on the breadline.  You can’t buy a nice esrog if you’re scraping to get by.  You can’t purchase beautiful tefillin if you don’t know whether you’re getting paid tomorrow.  Wealth, when utilized for the right reasons, is a desirable pursuit.

We don’t shun wisdom – and that doesn’t mean purely knowledge of the Scriptures; it goes without saying that you need to learn Torah.  Of course an am ha’aretz (one ignorant in Torah) would not be worthy of Hashem’s presence.  The Talmud here is referring to worldly wisdom.  A recipient of the Divine flow of energy needs to be prepared to open his/her mind to all the wisdom of the world – from science to philosophy to the arts.   In order to truly appreciate G-dliness, one must be intensely aware and grappling with the world around.

But above all, one must be humble.  One must seek perfection in every aspect of one’s life but remain utterly humble and grateful to the Almighty for giving you the opportunities in life to achieve such perfection of mind, body, spirit and pocket.  That was made Moshe so incredible.  Throughout his ascent to greatness, he remained the humble shepherd.

Divine inspiration is a small piece of prophecy.  If you are seeking that Divine flow of energy, you must first achieve physical perfection.   May you merit becoming mighty, wealthy, wise, and humble and having the Divine presence rest upon you!