A famous story is told about a hungry Jewish beggar that knocks on the door of Shloima the miser to ask for something to eat. Shloime tells the beggar to wait and he will check to see what he has. After looking through his refrigerator in hopes of helping this unfortunate soul, hidden way in the back on the bottom shelf behind every delicacy one can imagine, he finds some salty fish that must have been sitting there since last Pesach.
He offers him that food and the beggar gobble it up in seconds.
Minutes pass and the beggar doubles over and complains that he has terrible pains in his stomach.
Shloime immediately calls an ambulance to take the beggar to the hospital. A few hours later Shloima stops by the hospital to visit the poor man.
Unfortunately, he is told by the doctor that the man is suffering from severe food poisoning and things do not look good.
The next morning he learns that the beggar had passed away during the night. Shloime goes to the funeral to pay his respects. Two days later he comes home beaming with happiness. He is asked by his wife, “Why are you smiling?” Shloime responded, “I just came back from visiting the poor man’s wife and orphans. It’s amazing how many mitzvahs I did for that one poor Jew!”
The time between Pesach and Shavuos is called Sefirat Ha-Omer. Chasidus explains that this period is meant for Jews to become purified from evil, cleansed and focused on improving their personal development and character building.
Nachmanides, born Moses ben Nachman, was a leading medieval Jewish scholar who claimed that it was possible for a Jew to technically keep and faithfully follow all the Jewish laws and still stink like old salty fish.
The Jewish people left Egypt so they could receive the Torah.
In order for us to properly receive the Torah in a way that it elevates us from our animalistic level to a heavenly level we need to refine or polish away our impurities during these seven weeks by focusing in on the good qualities of our character and looking for ways to improve it; so that ultimately we can become a guiding light for the entire world.
The Seven character traits are loosely translated into English as the following: Love, Authenticity, Compassion, Endurance, Gratefulness, Relationships, and Leadership.
This week in the counting is the week called Netzach. Netzach is the characteristic of endurance. For someone to lead in an enduring way he must have a shared goal that is founded on love. For instance, if your team can identify with the need and the importance of the final product, they will give their heart and soul to its completion.
If heaven forbid the goal is completely egotistical then the team around you will fall out no matter how hard you drive them.
I’m sure if you ask people who have been on a diet, they would tell you that in order to stick with it and be successful you have to be very disciplined and show sheer determination, persistence, and willpower. Anyone who has ever tried reaching any goal in life has had to deal with great challenges put before them. The more you have the overwhelming drive and desire to achieve the goals you are striving for, the more motivated you will be to conquer those challenges.
Sometimes you just run out of gas! When that happens learn to ask for help.
It is worthwhile to take some time during this week to meditate about the goals in your life and see if they are rooted in love and endurance. I suggest sharing that vision with the people close to you so that they can become more involved in helping you attain your goals.
As the baseball legend, Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”
Have a wonderful Shabbos.