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Courage

February 27, 2013

The Final Week - Simon Ward

The Final Week – Simon Ward

As with past Blogs below is a summary of the Parsha (Parsha Ki Sisa) from http://www.ohr.edu and a short thought on the Parsha.

Moshe conducts a census by counting each silver half-shekel donated by all men age twenty and over. Moshe is commanded to make a copper laver for the Mishkan. The women donate the necessary metal. The formula of the anointing oil is specified, and G-d instructs Moshe to use this oil only for dedicating the Mishkan, its vessels, Aharon and his sons. G-d selects Betzalel and Oholiav as master craftsmen for the Mishkan and its vessels. The Jewish People are commanded to keep the Sabbath as an eternal sign that G-d made the world. Moshe receives the two Tablets of Testimony on which are written the Ten Commandments. The mixed multitude who left Egypt with the Jewish People panic when Moshe’s descent seems delayed, and force Aharon to make a golden calf for them to worship. Aharon stalls, trying to delay them. G-d tells Moshe to return to the people immediately, threatening to destroy everyone and build a new nation from Moshe. When Moshe sees the camp of idol-worship he smashes the tablets and destroys the golden calf. The sons of Levi volunteer to punish the transgressors, executing 3,000 men. Moshe ascends the mountain to pray for forgiveness for the people, and G-d accepts his prayer. Moshe sets up the Mishkan and G-d’s cloud of glory returns.

Moshe asks G-d to show him the rules by which he conducts the world, but is granted only a small portion of this request. G-d tells Moshe to hew new tablets and reveals to him the text of the prayer that will invoke Divine mercy.

Idol worship, intermarriage and the combination of milk and meat are prohibited. The laws of Pesach, the first-born, the first-fruits, Shabbat, Shavuot and Succot are taught. When Moshe descends with the second set of tablets, his face is luminous as a result of contact with the Divine.

A nice thought on the Parsha – The Jews had to donate a ‘Half shekel’ coin. It was to be made of silver, these coins were given by rich and poor alike, everyone had to give exactly half a shekel, no more and no less. This coin was to be used to count the number of Jewish people alive. (Shemot 30:13)

There are several reasons why it had to be half a shekel. One reason for it was that when two half shekels are put together a whole shekel is formed, this teaches us that unity and oneness is important. G-d’s presence rests among us when the Jews are united together, one nation one heart!

I recently noticed the following quote which I think is relevant and links in very well with the Parsha, Purim that was last week and life in general.
“Fear is what stops you… courage is what keeps you going.” – Unknown

When the Jewish people built the Golden Calf Moshe was on Mt. Sinai. Hashem notifies Moshe of the transgression of the Israelites and tells him to go down from the mountain to the people. He tells Moshe that He will destroy the Bnei Yisrael. Moshe’s immediate reaction is to start praying that Hashem should forgive them. וַיְחַל מֹשֶׁה “And Moshe pleaded before Hashem…”. (Ex. 32,11)

The great commentator on the Torah, Ibn Ezra, states that Moshe did not pray at this particular time. He first went down to the people, destroyed the Golden Calf, and punished the perpetrators of the crime and only then went up again to plead before Hashem on behalf of the Jewish people. What was Ibn Ezra’s reason for this opinion?

Rabbi Soloveitchik offers an answer to this question. Moshe could not pray for forgiveness while the Golden Calf still existed. How could Hashem forgive the people while they are in the midst of transgressing? He had to correct the situation and then ask for forgiveness.

Hence Moshe went down from the mountain, destroyed the Golden Calf and punished the perpetrators of the crime. Only then did he ascend the mountain again and asked Hashem to forgive the Jewish people.
If we hurt someone’s feelings or mistreat a friend, we cannot expect to be forgiven until we correct the situation we created. It takes great courage to try correct the situation and possibly admit you were wrong. Only once we have done something about the situation can we expect to be forgiven.

The story of Purim has lessons on Courage. This is a summary of a Dvar Torah from Rabbi Jacks. In life do you take risk or always play it safe? In life it is liberating every now and then to try and leave your comfort zone. It could be exhilarating to push yourself to a point that is beyond your safety net, and that is beyond the “familiar”.

As someone who loves to exercise and keep fit I need challenges to keep me motivated. The Great Muhammad Ali said – “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

This is not an easy task. Training for an Ironman event is a daunting experience! But it is a very valuable exercise.

Leaving our comfort zone is the only way we grow. It is the only way we learn additional skills. It is the only way we meet new people and discover different experiences that enrich our lives.

On Purim we celebrated the courage of a woman, Queen Esther, who went way out of her comfort zone, and in so doing saved her people, and taught by her example how destiny demands of us to rise beyond our comfort zone.

Her bravery became examples of courage and confidence that have inspired many.

When we try something new – when we open a new business or enter a new relationship – we do not know exactly how it will turn out. We cannot plan everything in advance. In fact, when we try to map out exactly how things should work out, we close off options that may help us along the way.

Esther’s bravery, teaches us how critical it is to trust that G-d will bring us to our destination. Without that trust, we handicap ourselves from the beginning. We miss out on the spiritual strength that will help us throughout life’s inevitable roadblocks.

There is a special ability on Purim to grow, experience new breakthroughs and boldly cultivate a richer spiritual life.

Over the weekend I was very proud of my daughter. As parents Loren and I try get our kids to do more exercise by joining us in our pursuits. On Sunday Michaela stepped away from her comfort zone of her kids swim squad to go swim with Loren. It was very good bonding time for both (Loren was amazed how strong Michaela was). Well done Michaela.Now I need her to try doing a Triathlon!

As I am getting closer to Ironman people are asking when is my training going to taper down. I am the kind of person that worries what is going to happen if I taper. I recently noticed a few tweets by Joe Friel that summed this all up:

• Fatigue and fitness trend in the same direction. Whenever one is increasing, the other is also.
• When training is reduced fitness decreases. That includes tapering for a race. But fatigue _must_ be decreased for peak performance.
• When tapering the reduction in fatigue results in “freshness.” We call this “form.” It’s the purpose of tapering.
• If too much fitness is lost when tapering the resulting form is weak. While fresh, the performance will be poor.

It takes courage to start the taper process. Chris “Macca” McCormack in his Podcast recommends a 14 day taper period. Macca says you mindset needs to change from Build to Recovery/ Being Fresh. The Taper period is to keep the body in a ready to go state. In the taper period you need to take days of complete rest. Macca takes about 4 days off. During the taper Macca follows the same skeleton program, but reduces the volume by 50-60%. Macca also recommends doing some faster short sessions. The taper period also requires mental preparedness. You need to get your head around the as Macca says the “enormity” of the day. During the taper period you may feel lethargic etc. In the past this has played on my head and increased my fear.

With just over 3 weeks to go to Ironman Melbourne, I need to have the courage to say I have done all that I could to prepare for this event and let go of my focus on “build” and start preparing for this taper period and ultimately for the BIG DAY!

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