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Strengths & Weaknesses

December 20, 2013

strengths-and-weaknessesBe confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept, everything you are and everything you aren’t that you will truly succeed in life.  –  Ritu Ghatourey

Below is the Parsha Shemot overview from – With the death of Yosef, the Book of Bereishet (Genesis) comes to an end. The Book of Shemot (Exodus) chronicles the creation of the nation of Israel from the descendants of Yaakov. At the beginning of this week’s parsha, Pharaoh, fearing the population explosion of Jews, enslaves them. However, when their birthrate increases, he orders the Jewish midwives to kill all newborn males. Yocheved gives birth to Moshe and hides him in the reeds by the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter finds and adopts him, although she knows he is probably a Hebrew. Miriam, Moshe’s sister, offers to find a nursemaid for Moshe and arranges for his mother Yocheved to fulfill that role. Years later, Moshe witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and Moshe kills the Egyptian. Realizing his life is in danger, Moshe flees to Midian where he rescues Tzipporah, whose father Yitro approves their subsequent marriage. On Chorev (Mt. Sinai) Moshe witnesses the burning bush where G-d commands him to lead the Jewish People from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael, the Land promised to their ancestors. Moshe protests that the Jewish People will doubt his being G-d’s agent, so G-d enables Moshe to perform three miraculous transformations to validate himself in the people’s eyes: transforming his staff into a snake, his healthy hand into a leprous one, and water into blood. When Moshe declares that he is not a good public speaker, G-d tells him that his brother Aharon will be his spokesman. Aharon greets Moshe on his return to Egypt and they petition Pharaoh to release the Jews. Pharaoh responds with even harsher decrees, declaring that the Jews must produce the same quota of bricks as before but without being given supplies. The people become dispirited, but G-d assures Moshe that He will force Pharaoh to let the Jews leave.

I really had no intention of doing a Blog this week, but came across a very good Dvar Torah (Torah speech) that I would like to share.

As a prelude, I sent out the following quote to some of my running buddies – ‘We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.’ – Dr. Jason Karp[1]. I got a the following response from one of the guys – “Can’t say running is my favourite activity.”

As a triathlete you have 3 disciplines to “Master”. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. I know my riding can and improve and I am continuously reminded that I need to improve on transition.

I will include the whole Dvar Torah (Torah speech) titled – Strengths and Weaknesses: Thoughts for Parashat Shemoth, – By Rabbi Marc D. Angel –

A story is told about the famous musician Itzhak Perlman who was to perform a violin concert. The orchestra began the program, but just as Perlman put his bow to the violin one of the four strings snapped with a loud pop. The audience gasped. The conductor stopped the orchestra.

Perlman immediately signaled the conductor and orchestra to continue with the program. He played the entire concert with a violin of three strings…and he played masterfully. He was able to improvise and compensate so that the missing string was not noticed. At the conclusion of the performance, the audience gave an enthusiastic standing ovation. Everyone was amazed.

The moral of this story is that one must play with the violin that one has. The broader moral is that life must be lived with the talents and shortcomings that one has. Instead of focusing on our deficiencies, we must focus on our strengths. We must be able to improvise and compensate for what we lack in order to “perform” our lives with maximum effect.

In this week’s Parasha, we read of G-d’s appointment of Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. Moses is reluctant to accept the challenge. He states: “I am not a man of words…for I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue (Shemoth 4:10).” It is as though Moses was saying: I can’t properly play a violin with only three strings. My deficiency prevents me from accomplishing the goal. G-d replies to Moses that He is the One who empowers people. “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak (4:12).”

I believe the operative phrase in G-d’s words to Moses is: “now therefore go.” G-d was instructing Moses not to dwell on his weaknesses but to take initiative, to move forward, to draw on whatever strengths he did have. If Moses could rally his courage and confidence, G-d would help him to succeed.

Many people fail in life because they dwell on their deficiencies rather than on their strengths. They underestimate their ability to perform masterfully, to rise to greatness. They don’t realize that overcoming one’s shortcomings is one of the wonderful challenges of life. Instead of being discouraged by a three-stringed violin, a true musician is energized by the opportunity to reach beyond usual boundaries, to test the limits of one’s abilities.

People are sometimes discouraged by their past failures. They lose confidence in their ability to undertake new challenges. They think that if they failed it the past, they are destined always to fail.

Kohelet teaches (2:14) that “a wise man, his eyes are in his head.” This means that a wise person is alert, sees clearly. The verse also alludes to the fact that eyes are in the front of one’s face, not in the back. A wise person looks forward, not backward. Whatever things have transpired in the past—the glories and the failures—are done and cannot be retrieved. There’s little point in gloating over past successes or mourning over past disappointments. Life is ahead of us, not behind us. Just as past success is no guarantee of future successes, so past failure is no guarantee of future failures. The great challenge to human beings is to look ahead, to grasp the adventure of life, to draw on one’s talents and energies, to overcome weaknesses and deficiencies.

“Now therefore go.” G-d’s charge to Moses is a charge to each of us to strive to reach our maximum potential, to let our strengths and talents prevail over our fears and weaknesses.

To End a quote from –

The BEST part about getting fit is that it’s all about YOU and YOUR improvements.

➔ No comparisons.

➔ No judgement.

➔ Just determination.

[1] Dr. Jason Karp is a US nationally-recognized running and fitness coach and owner of Run-Fit.


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  1. Mom permalink

    Loved blog esp Perlman story & connection to parsha. All you said is so true if only more people could apply it. well written.

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