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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Failure is not an option

Daf Yomi Gittin 18


The Baal Shem Tov would often take his closest students, known as the Chevraya Kadisha, the Holy Brotherhood, on mystical journeys in the middle of the night.  They would join him in his carriage and be led to some faraway land. 

On one such journey, they ended up at the home of a poor farmer.  They entered his little house and began chatting with him.  In the middle of their discussion, a ruffian throws open the door, pounds on the table, and leaves.  The farmer continues the conversation as if nothing happened.  The bewildered students of the Baal Shem Tov ask what just happened and he tells them that it was a warning that he must pay his rent or else he will be thrown into the dungeon by the local squire. 
‘Do you have the money?’ they ask him.
‘Not yet, but Hashem will provide,’ he responds confidently.

They continue their conversation when a couple of hours later, the door swings open once more and now the ruffian bangs and bangs until the farmer gets up and puts on his coat to leave.
‘But do you have the money?’ they ask once more.
‘Not yet,’ he replies again, ‘but Hashem will provide.’

He sets out in his wagon and they follow some distance behind, waiting to see what will happen.   A few minutes into the journey, another wagon pulls up alongside the farmer.  They both stop and then the other wagon drives away.  A minute later, it turns around and pulls up to the farmer’s wagon once again.  Finally, the farmer goes to the home of the squire and walks out beaming with joy.

‘What happened?’ ask the bemused Chevraya Kadisha, ‘Did you pay the rent?’
‘Yes, Baruch Hashem, in full!’ replies the happy farmer.
‘But how?’ they exclaim, ‘You had no money!’
‘Well, when I set out, you’re right, I didn’t have the money in my pocket, but I knew Hashem would provide.  Along the way, a local grocer pulled up alongside my wagon and offered to purchase my upcoming crops.  I told him the price; that is, how much I needed to pay for the rent.  He refused and drove off.  And then miracle of miracles, a few moments later, he returned and paid me the full amount!’

These three types of divorce documents are invalid, but if they were used and the woman remarried, her child is kosher: If the husband wrote it without witnesses; if there were witnesses, but no date; or, if there is a date, but only a single witness.
Abaye asks: If the husband simply wrote which seven-year cycle, or the year, or month or week (without specifying the exact date), what is the law?
Rav Yosef responds: It is nonetheless kosher.
Ravina asked Rav Ashi: How about if the man wrote it, and then put in his back pocket for a number of days with the following thinking: If he manages to appease his wife, she will be appeased and he won’t have to give the gett, but if not, he will give it to her?
He responded: A person would not prepare the calamity for himself before the event occurs.
Rashi explains: Nobody is going to write a bill of divorce until they actually need it.

If you want your marriage to work, and you’re setting out with the goal of making things right with your spouse, why would you have the pre-filled divorce documents in your back-pocket, just in case?  A person who does that is demonstrating that he doesn’t believe wholeheartedly that the marriage will work.  If you already have that attitude, you’re doomed to failure.   If you want to succeed at your marriage, you need to believe that staying married is the only option.  And when you have that mindset and give yourself over to your spouse utterly and completely, your marriage will indeed flourish!

Sadly, today too many married people are living with their gett in their back-pocket.  Divorce is a much easier option than in generations of yesteryear; and all too often, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, instead of working on appeasing their spouse and making the marriage work.  They believe that they will find someone else better, that the grass is greener on the other side. 

But it really isn’t so simple.  It’s like an organ transplant – Baruch Hashem, we live in a wonderful age when transplants are no longer the realm of science fiction.  But even today, with all our modern technology, there is no guarantee that when you give your liver to someone else, their body will accept it.  It might not be a good fit. 

Likewise, the Torah tells us that your spouse is your rib – you can’t just take somebody else’s rib and think that it will fit.   Your best fit is the rib that you are with.  Looking for the greener grass is way riskier than working it out with your natural-fit rib.  Divorce shouldn’t be an option, except in the most extreme situations.   Our Sages tell us that when divorce happens, the altar in the Holy Temple sheds tears!

The same is true of every facet of your life.  When you have an attitude of success, you will succeed.  When you have an attitude of doubt, you open yourself up to failure.  Everybody wants to succeed in life.  Unfortunately most people just don’t make it.  Why?  Because they’ve already allowed themselves to believe that failure is an option.   When you believe that Heaven is guiding you, there’s absolutely no reason to consider the option of failure.

If you trust in the Almighty that He will provide, rest assured that He will provide.  If Hashem can provide for the farmer who set off to pay his rent without a penny in his pocket, He can provide for all your needs too.  What’s holding you back in life is your uncertainty as to whether or not Hashem will be there for you.  But if you believe in Him, He will provide your every need.


You are destined to achieve incredible things in this world.  If you have a vision of who you are destined to be it is because Heaven planted that vision in your heart.  Now it’s time to make it happen.  It’s time to stop worrying about all the potential things that might go wrong.  May you maintain complete faith in Heaven and accomplish all of your greatest dreams!