Reaching Our Potential

Potentially Reaching Our Potential


It’s the end of another year, and we are spending this the last month of the year reviewing all that we have accomplished, things we gained and lost, items that interested and bored us. Most of us are beginning to plan for the coming year 5760. There are also those who are fearful that Y2K will shut down the world, and then there are those who are mildly interested in this whole thing. Lastly, there are people out there where Y2K or any other major media promoted event means absolutely nothing to them. The children of this world have no care in the world. All will be well. In their minds though they think, dream and ponder of a day when they will be able to make a positive difference into people’s lives.

A child see his or her potential in life as unlimited, then as they grow older the vision of unlimited potentiality grows somewhere between “No Way” to “I guess I could try”. As children walk safely through their young years, they dream of days when they will out-plan and outdo the adults, for in their mind there is no fear of success, in their mind there is hope. The hope is mostly disguised in fantasy. As adults we have lost the interest in dreaming, hoping, wishing and even believing for a better situation to come our way.

As you may already know from my previous Hashkafa writings I am into goal setting and follow thru. Last year I began writing my yearly goals right before Rosh Hashana and each week added more and more goals. By years end I have written over 1000 goals to accomplish over the next 5 years. Of the ones I wrote that dealt with accomplishing this year. I scored a 65! I met 65% of my goals, this coming year I’m shooting for 75%! This time I will dream a little stronger and hope for a lot more.

In the shemona esrai we say three words toward the end of the first Bracha. Ozer, Mosheya, Umogain… Hashem is Ozer, Moshia, and Mogain. The simple translation is Hashem Helps us, Listens to us, and Protects us. Our sages teach us that it is vital for the sake of our generation with our heads filled with so much stuff that at least the first Bracha (blessing) we should have kavana (concentration and understanding). In the first Bracha of shemona esrai we conclude with that Hashem the king is our HELPER, our LISTENER, and our PROTECTOR, the kavana on this is Ozer = Helper – That Hashem helps us reach our potential. We each have our missions and Hashem helps us attain the accomplishments of these missions. How do we get to accomplish them? By continuing to strive for our purpose in life. What is our purpose in life? Aha ! For that we go back to our children and perhaps learn from them how to understand our potential.

Before I continue so that you don’t feel left hanging. The kavana for Moshia/Listener is Hashem listens to ALL our prayer even those that we think we have not merited for Hashem to listen to us and Mogain/Protector – that Hashem protects us from all bad before it even comes our way.

Now back to our children. If a child tells you, “I want to be a fireman!” Do you tell him all the pitfalls, hardships and challenges it will take to get there? No, we smile and in the back of our minds we say “Right, sure — whatever you say!” However, when it comes to adults who share their fantasy and dreams they can be rest assured that at least 100 opinions from 10 different people will pop up and explain as analytical as possible why this will NOT work. The difference is our fear. Our fear of the unknown, our fear of the what if is scaring us away from doing what we enjoy most and it is our calling.

If we spent the time learning from our children’s simplicity — then we too perhaps would choose to believe that we have the potential to reach all of our potentiality. I am humbled and blessed by the fact that Hashem gifted me with a grandmother who later married the Skulener Rebbi – to whom I wish I would have said while alive, “Thank you for saving my yiddishkeit” I guess its never too late to say Thank you.

Last year August I was honored to attend the aufruf Shabbos (Shabbos before the wedding) of my brother Berel who married the true love of his life Sherry zul zein gezunt (should be well and healthy). At the Friday night meal the Rav of the Shul stood up to speak and spoke with words that truly stirred everyone in attendance. As he concluded he turned to us and said, “I was not planning on speaking about a certain subject but I feel I must!” He then went on to tell us that he had just found out that we are related to the Skulener Rebbi and asked that we indulge him a few moments in order that he may tell us the following story.

In the early 1900’s after the Skulener Rebbi passed away the community had a difficult challenge. Half the community felt that the son only 17 at the time should automatically take over for his father, while the other half felt that perhaps he is too young at this time. The solution that both parties agreed was to send a shaila (asking question of a great sage) to the holy Rabaz who at that time was the posaik in Romania, and whatever he says — both parties agree to abide by his ruling.

The letter with the response was returned and it read something like this. “The young man who stands before you in is young in age but not in knowledge. He is a man who at the time of his death he would have accomplished great things in this world in al aspects of saving lives, and nurturing them to grow strong. He will be known throughout the world as a leader in both the spiritual and physical aspects of life. He will be known as one the most humble people that ever lived. He is your Rabbi no question about it!”

At the time of my grandfather’s death. That is EXACTLY what they said about him. The Rabbi turned to us and exclaimed, “Who would have known back in the early 1900’s that the Rabaz would foretell the potential of a young man and exactly to the letter his life was lived and fulfilled, and would have guessed that tonight the 16th Yahrtzeit since the passing of such a great man that the grandson of the Rabaz – ME – (said the Rabbi) would be a part of the simcha of the children and grandchildren of the great Skulener Rebbi who my grandfather gave the Psak to become Rav.

There is an even greater epilogue to this story that I will mention in my next Hashkafa.

The point as you may have guessed is simple. We may not have the Rabaz or anyone else write down and seal our potential in an envelope, in order that we may begin fulfilling our potential. What we have is our minds that we must empty from fear, and begin dreaming, hoping, wishing and praying to reach beyond and to the unknown.

For the past two years I have set aside a theme to work on for the entire year in order to make ONE thing best in ourselves. This year I am taking upon myself in the hopes that you will all join me in “Believing that we have the POTENTIAL to reach our POTENTIALITY” I will be working on this year on believing that I can accomplish all that is potentially possible. I will reach beyond what I have reached until now to bring more happiness into my life and into the life of those around me. I ask you to join me.

I am saddened at times when I relive a statement made to me this past Purim by a person who may have been high but not drunk. It still hurts — his words that is, but I am consciously aware of his truthful insightful words. He meant to speak truth and he did. He spoke of this Potentiality. He said, “What will they say to you Reb Chaim, you sold a lot of Audiobooks but you could have been the greatest Rebbi in the world!” I hope I can still be, and this year I hope to improve on that potentiality.

To all my students wherever you are throughout this great universe, I want to be a better Rebbi to you and to all the new students I will attract this coming year. I have always committed myself to you for life, and today I am reiterating my promise to you. Once you became my Talmid or Talmida — It is for life. I will always be available for you.

To all my Children – May Hashem bless you with all gifts of love. I promise to be a better father, and parent to you by reaching out and wanting to potentially reach a higher potential.

To all a Ksiva Vechasima Tova, May Hashem bless you all with great health and wealth. May this coming year bring happiness and health to those who faces are frowning. Join me in awakening our souls in order that we may all reach out a little beyond our comfort zone and potentially reach our potential for the year.