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December 8, 2014

Fail“Because to struggle is to be alive.” – @richroll – Title of Rich’s Podcast[1] interview with Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathonman)

Below is a summary of Torah Parsha (Portion) Vayeishev from

Jacob settles in Hebron with his twelve sons. His favorite is seventeen-year-old Joseph, whose brothers are jealous of the preferential treatment he receives from his father, such as a precious many-colored coat that Jacob makes for Joseph. Joseph relates to his brothers two of his dreams which foretell that he is destined to rule over them, increasing their envy and hatred towards him.

Simeon and Levi plot to kill him, but Reuben suggests that they throw him into a pit instead, intending to come back later and save him. While Joseph is in the pit, Judah has him sold to a band of passing Ishmaelites. The brothers dip Joseph’s special coat in the blood of a goat and show it to their father, leading him to believe that his most beloved son was devoured by a wild beast.

Judah marries and has three children. The eldest, Er, dies young and childless, and his wife, Tamar, is given in levirate marriage to the second son, Onan. Onan sins by spilling his seed, and he too meets an early death. Judah is reluctant to have his third son marry her. Determined to have a child from Judah’s family, Tamar disguises herself as a prostitute and seduces Judah himself. Judah hears that his daughter-in-law has become pregnant and orders her executed for harlotry, but when Tamar produces some personal effects he left with her as a pledge for payment, he publicly admits that he is the father. Tamar gives birth to twin sons, Peretz (an ancestor of King David) and Zerach.

Joseph is taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, the minister in charge of Pharaoh’s slaughterhouses. G‑d blesses everything he does, and soon he is made overseer of all his master’s property. Potiphar’s wife desires the handsome and charismatic lad; when Joseph rejects her advances, she tells her husband that the Hebrew slave tried to force himself on her, and has him thrown into prison. Joseph gains the trust and admiration of his jailers, who appoint him to a position of authority in the prison administration.

In prison, Joseph meets Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker, both incarcerated for offending their royal master. Both have disturbing dreams, which Joseph interprets; in three days, he tells them, the butler will be released and the baker hanged. Joseph asks the butler to intercede on his behalf with Pharaoh. Joseph’s predictions are fulfilled, but the butler forgets all about Joseph and does nothing for him.

“Failure” – is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.

In this week’s Torah Parsha Yosef’s (Joseph’s) brothers wanted to sentence Yosef to the death penalty. Reuven convinced them to lower him into a pit instead. His plan was to return to the pit, take Yosef out, and return him to their father Yaakov (Jacob). His plan ultimately failed, as the brothers drew Yosef up out of the pit and sold him to a band of Yishmaelim. Was Reuven a failure? In last week’s Torah Parsha, Jacob battled with an “angel” and was struck on the hip. Did Jacob fail? The Torah mentions many other trials, tribulations and maybe failures of our forefathers.

Over the last few days a number of scenarios came up on the topic of failure. I would like to share a few:

  • On the 3rd of December. William Trubridge attempted a new free diving world record by diving to 102m (334ft) and back on a single breath. His attempt brought New Zealand to a standstill. William missed breaking his World Record. You can watch his attempt[2]
  • As I mentioned in my last Blog about Goals, that Tiger Woods would only make a return to golf when he was ready. After the 1st Round of his comeback tournament. Tiger was in last position. The News headlines read “Tiger Woods fizzled out in his return to competitive golf….”. Tiger actually ended last in the Tournament.
  • In the World Athletics Championships last Year, Australian Shawn Forrest came 14th in the Marathon. Shawn was not pleased with his result. He though he may have had a bug and had failed?
  • On Friday night my Mom made Cream Caramel. She knows how much I use to love it and had not made it for a while (a long while). There was no way I was not going to have a piece;
  • Loren has been helping a co-teacher with her diet. She said last week to Loren that she had had a very bad weekend. What must she do?
  • On the Tim Noakes LCHF Banting Podcast , a listener wanted to know that if you, for say two weeks or a month or more, go without any sugar, zero grams of sugar and then all of a sudden for some reason, whether it be stress or whatever, you end up eating a whole pack of sugary candy, whether it be a slab of chocolate, or whatever it is and then you go back to no sugar. Is a big dose of sugar like that occasionally, better than a smaller dose every single day?

Did we all fail? Are we failures?

Rav Boruch Halevi Epstein zt”l, (who is known to us as the Torah Temima) writes that even though Reuven’s plan failed, the Torah still mentions it because it is fitting to give credit to someone who does a mitzvah. Reuven was planning to save his brother. In fact, there is a halacha in Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 249:13) based on this. The Rema (Rav Moshe Issurles zt”l) writes that it is permissible for a benefactor to inscribe his name on an object or building, in order to publicize the good deed.

In Jacob’s battle with the Angel, Jacob did not see being hit on the hip as a failure, he did not give up. Jacob knew who he was, and he knew he could overcome his setback and succeed. And so he continued to struggle. The commentator the Seforno says what is important is how you deal with failure.

Below are some answers to some of the scenarios. I hope we can all learn something:

From William Trubridge, Steinlager his sponsor said “When you push boundaries, your success is not guaranteed, but our support is”. People will continue to support you through your failures.

Tiger Woods was quoted after the tournament as saying “My short game was awful. But the good side is I played four straight days and felt no pain, and hit the ball as hard as I wanted to, over bunkers and cutting corners,” Woods told reporters in assessing his state of play as he assimilates a swing change with new consultant Chris Como.

The former world number one said a new release point on his shots was affecting his chipping motion, but he was not worried. “Over these holidays, I can refine it,” he said, adding that he planned a full schedule for the upcoming season.. On the other side, his girlfriend Skiers Lindsey Vonn returned to skiing after a high-speed devastating crash in 2013 with a Downhill win. She said “I risked a lot more and skied a lot better”. Tiger Woods @TigerWoods tweeted – “I competed and Linds won”. Tiger is not going to give up. By competing he will improve!

Shawn Forrest found out that he was not a failure, but that his “body failed”. The reason was that he had Type 1 diabetes. Shawn said – “It is a disease that I don’t think will restrict me in getting back to at least those levels in running. I am a competitor.” Shawn wants to be back for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

I think the answers and lessons are pretty much the same for the diet related failures. Some people have the control to “break” their diets and get back onto their diets. People like me have the mental will power to eat ONE SLICE OF CRÈME CARAMEL or ONE PIECE OF CHOCOLATE or JUST HAVE A HALF A TEASPOON OF SUGUR IN COFFEE and do not go crazy, but other like Tim Noakes, don’t have that control. Tim says that “… my addiction to sugar is so powerful, that I have got to be very careful and please understand that I do not have the worst case of sugar addiction.”. People need to understand their own circumstances, personalities and level of will power in assessing what to do if the fall off the diet wagon or want a piece of Crème Caramel or want to binge on some sweets.

Loren and I love to read the “My Day on a Plate” Column in the Sunday Age. In the column random people including celebrities describe their eating for a day, and then Nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan[3] comments on their diet and makes suggestions for improvement. Reading her column (I don’t always agree with everything she says), I have learnt a fortune about other people’s “diet failures” and how to improve my own diet. For people who are battling on their diets or have fallen off the wagon it is important to review your diet, seek advice from others who know more such as nutritionists, friends (Loren is brilliant), from reading, researching and listening to Podcasts. Tim Noakes in his Podcast, concludes – “… people just need to understand where do you sit on the sugar addiction scale and if you are extreme, you have to cut it completely, utterly and never eat it again.”

“Failure is by no means a reason to despair; rather it is an opportunity to become even stronger and merit even greater reward” Shemoneh Esrei: The Depth and Beauty of Our Daily Tefillah – By Zev Leff

“With every FAILURE you’re one step closer to SUCCESS” – @Sports_Gr​eats




[3] @joannanutrition – PhD qualified nutritionist, author & health presenter. Founder of Dr Joanna & Get Lean. TODAY show nutritionist & regular media contributor.


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