The Purple Sheet
Shabbat Parshat Emor – May 20th/21st
Dedicated in honour of my daughter, Atara and Avi on the birth of their daughter, Maayan Tovah.
As her name implies, may she always have a well-spring of Good Blessing and Luck in her life.
We have all met people whom it seems that luck follows them wherever they go. Things just magically seem to go their way. On the other hand, we have met people (or sometimes feel it about ourselves) where luck is ever elusive in their lives. “I never seem to get a break” is their mantra and life is one tough challenge after another.
How exactly this works and why fortune smiles on some while not on others is very much related to the extremely difficult issue of “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People” and all the related thorny notions of how God judges us. It is way too complex to attack that topic here and I would not even pretend to explain an issue that, according to Jewish tradition, even the great Moshe had difficulty with.
Yet the concern is still a gnawing one and one often wonders whether or not they can do anything that might improve the chances to better their luck or fortune? Is there something indeed within our power to ensure that things might go more our way and to our liking?
In truth there happens to be one thing that we can certainly control and that is our attitude. And upon further inspection this is an important and crucial factor. Two people might find themselves in the exact or very similar circumstances and yet one will view it through a positive prism while the other will view it through a negative one. It is within our ability to have a more optimistic outlook on any situation.
But to take it a step further, it also true that our outlook can even shape our future results. Yes, how positive or negative we choose to see any particular situation or challenge can actually affect its outcome by creating more positive or negative energy and circumstances, as the case may be. I know that sounds a bit vague so let me illustrate what I mean.
A story is told of a man looking to move to a different town. This was in the days before he could Google the place and find out everything that he needed to know about the locale, and it was certainly before the days where he could hop on a plane or jump into a car to check it out. So he came with his horse and wagon and all of his belonging and happened upon a wise shoemaker who worked on the outskirts of the town which he was considering moving into. He inquired about the nature of the people of the prospective town. The shoemaker answered by asking him what the people were like in the town that he just moved from. “Oh they were quite nice, friendly, warm and kind. I loved it there, but unfortunately for economic reasons beyond my control I need to move elsewhere.” The shoemaker replied that he would find the people of this town similarly kind, giving, friendly and outgoing. The man thanked the shoemaker for the tip and made his way onward towards the town to start his new life there.
Later that same day another man in similar circumstances approached the same shoemaker with the same inquiry. The shoemaker, being a consistent fellow, asked what the people where like from the town that he had just vacated. “Oh they were not nice people. Very hard to get to know, not kind, giving or very friendly; snobbish in fact.” “Well”, the shoemaker replied, “I am afraid that you will find the people of this town similarly mean-spirited and cold.” The man thanked the shoemaker for the inside scoop and continued his journey to find a more hospitable place to live.
The obvious question you have of course is the complete contradictory reports of the nature of the people that the shoemaker gave about the exact same town . Why would he present such a disparity of perspectives about the same place and the same folks? The answer lies in the fact that a place is whatever we decide to make of it. People will reflect back to you your attitude, face and demeanor. If you are happy, upbeat and positive, you create that as your immediate environment which others pick up on. This will in turn bring out the same in others thereby creating positive and fortunate circumstances that will result in all sorts of blessings. Conversely, if you are miserable, sad, kvetchy and unhappy, lo and behold, the people around you become that way. And this in turn will create negative, unfortunate and lousy results in your life.
King Solomon poignantly tells us in Proverbs, “As water reflects back a face to a face, so too one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.” Simply put, if you are miserable and unhappy, your attitude is contagious and those around you will magically become the same. But if you are upbeat and see the goodness in people and situations, then the people around you will feed off of that and you will have created a cycle of happiness and success that in turn revisits you. As the sportscasters like to say when a team or individual is playing very well, “Your create your own luck.” And indeed we do.
While we may tend to think of luck as some arbitrary lottery-winning random event, the truth is that this limited and scarce definition of luck applies to maybe one in a million people. For the rest of us we have a very significant power and influence as to whether or not lady luck and good fortune will smile upon us – and more often than not it begins with us smiling first.
Seven-eleven he rolled,
And all his life was a golden gamble…
Oh, spin your wheel of fortune.
Shuffle the cards, blow on the dice.
Are you with me in love,
Like you’ve been with me in life?
Rabbi Tzvi Nightingale
Aish South Florida www.aishfl.com