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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Be prepared for that big break

Daf Yomi Nazir 64

A senior colleague took about fifteen years to finish his doctorate.  It wasn’t as though he was lazing around doing nothing all those years.  He is the excellent rabbi of a large shul and has always been a fervently dedicated pastor, counselor and teacher.  He was so busy rabbi-ing that he simply had no time to write his dissertation. 

But he now feels that he missed out on a prestigious university position and had he only finished his degree a couple of years earlier, he would have been able to take his career in a completely different direction.  Instead, he is stuck doing the same thing he’s been doing for years with no end in sight. 

Rav Hamnuna taught: If a person going to offer his Pesach sacrifice on his seventh day of purification walked by an unknown grave, he remains pure, since the unknown grave is not powerful enough to spoil his purity.
Rava asks:  We have learned that one who is pure retains his presumption of purity but one who is impure retains his presumption of impurity.  In this case, if he did not yet go to the mikvah, how could he be pure?  He was still impure when he unknowingly encountered the grave!
Rava answers: In that case, I would concur with you.  But we are talking about a case when he had already been to the mikvah. Therefore, he would retain his purity, because he is not missing any part of the purification process. 
Abaye asks him: The process of purification requires immersing in the mikvah on the seventh day but then he only actually becomes fully pure when the sun sets that evening.  In this case, he is lacking sunset!
Rava answers: The sun is guaranteed to automatically set.

Most things in life are beyond your control.  If there is a body buried deep in the ground that nobody knows about and you walk over it, you can’t be blamed.  You didn’t put it there, you were just taking a stroll.  More to the point, unless you are Joshua in Gibeon you cannot detain the sun from setting.  That time each day has been predestined since the dawn of creation!

The only thing you can affect in life is what you do before the sun sets.  Or how you prepare yourself in the event you may step into that unplanned situation.   In our case, the fellow had immersed himself and was all ready to offer the Pesach sacrifice.  And then, without any forewarning, he steps over the impurity.  All he was lacking for purification was sunset.  Rava says: Don’t worry, I guarantee the sun will set, you’re fine!  You did what you needed to do, G-d will take care of the rest.

Personally, I believe that my colleague who took his time with his Ph.D. is very lucky to have remained in the rabbinate.  The fellow who took the university position has long since been terminated and my friend continues to devote day and night to doing G-d’s work.  But he, unfortunately, still lives with regret.  ‘If only he’d prepared himself in time.’

Sadly, that line is more common than we’d like to believe.  ‘If only I’d prepared myself in time.’

The sun will set no matter what.  There are certain things that will happen in life whether or not you are ready.  Your challenge is to lay the groundwork and prepare yourself now so that when that big break comes you will be the obvious choice.   Don’t push off doing what you need to do until it’s too late and all that’s left is regret.  Your time is just around the corner!

And if you are living with regret at having missed an opportunity, don’t give up!  The Almighty has limitless opportunities up His sleeve for you.  The sun may have set today, but tomorrow’s another day!  Keep prepping yourself and laying that groundwork because the next big break is almost upon you!

As the scouts say: Be prepared.  Once you have done everything in your capacity to make it happen, G-d will let nothing get in the way of your success.  May you merit accomplishing your dreams because you laid the groundwork to make them all come true!  

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