May 28, 2015

Not Doing the Best He Can!

Years ago, when I read the line, "S/he's doing the best s/he can with the tools s/he has," to put a positive spin on a negative situation, I didn't buy it.  Who said he's doing his best? I know I'm not doing my best, so why would I think others are?

I recently read an article by R' Fishel Schachter in which he describes preparing a shiur on a daf of Gemara with a Rashi that contains a lengthy mathematical calculation.  He wanted to avoid it altogether but was forced to tackle it.  He spent days on it until he finally mastered it.

He asks, what if he did not have to prepare the shiur? If he had been learning that Rashi with a chavrusa, he would have read it through superficially and moved on.  His thinking would have been, these mathematical calculations are not for me.  He would have believed that he could never understand it and forget about teaching it to others.

So he asks, what do we mean when we say we can't do something? He answers:

"Perhaps we mean: Given my current level of motivation, I can't.
Or, given the amount of resources and time I am willing to invest in whatever it is, I can't.
Or, given my existing level of emuna as to whether the success at the end will justify the effort, I can't.
Or, I am so concerned with failing that I am not willing to really apply myself properly.
Or, I don't fully understand that for all practical purposes I can't do anything without siyata dishmaya."

He concludes, "Let's stop thinking whether we can or can't.  Let's just engage and wait for help to come from Above.  The next time you hear yourself saying, 'I just can't do it,' take a moment to reflect on what you really mean.  The greatest opportunity of your life may be at hand.  Don't miss the call."

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