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Jewish World Review
March 7, 2008
/ 30 Adar I 5768
Who is in control?
Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski
Something to consider when focusing on a challenge's outcome
All the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting,
was completed, and the Children of Israel had done everything
that G-d commanded Moses, so did they do.
It would seem that logically, the order of this verse should reversed; i.e, ''The
Children of Israel did everything that G-d commanded Moses, so did they do,
and all the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed.'' Why
does the Torah tell us that the Tabernacle was completed before it says that
the Israelites did as they were commanded?
The answer is that if the order were reversed, it would indicate that because the
Israelites did the work, that is why the Tabernacle was completed. The fact is that
the Tabernacle was actually completed by G-d, after the Israelites did all they were
commanded. The completion of the Tabernacle was indeed the result of their effort, but their effort alone could not have done it. It was because they tried their
utmost that they merited that G-d should complete it.
This is a lesson that we should apply in every walk of life. In virtually everything
we do, there are many factors beyond our control that can affect outcome. We are
responsible only for what we do, not for what ultimately emerges.
This does not hold true in commerce. A person may begin a business with total
disregard for every principle of economy, and if he makes a windfall profit, he is
considered to be an excellent businessman.
On the other hand, if one prepares
carefully for a business venture, attending to every detail properly, and the business
fails, he is thought of as a poor businessman.
People will invest their money
with the one who has the best outcome, not with the one who has the best method.
We are so involved in economics, that we may apply commercial principles to
our personal lives and ethical issues. Parents who tried to raise their children in the
best possible way, but have a child with errant behavior, tend to feel guilty that
they were not good parents. I have seen instances where parents who were self-indulgent
and totally neglected their children had a child who turned out to be a
fine person and a credit to society. The parents who cared and tried are good
parents, even though the child turned out to be a disappointment. The parents
who were negligent were bad parents, even if their child grew up to be a great
Jews pray every day, in the central silent meditation, Amida, that G-d remember for us the merits of the patriarchs,
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Of Abraham G-d said, ''For I have loved him, because
he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of
G-d, doing charity and justice'' (Genesis 18:19). G-d loved Abraham for doing his
best to teach his children to walk in G-d's ways, but Abraham's son, Ishmael, did
not follow his father's teachings. Similarly, Isaac had a son, Esau, who was a
scoundrel, but that does not detract from Isaac's great spirituality. Neither Abraham
nor Isaac are held responsible for the unfavorable outcome of their children.
The phraseology describing the construction of the Tabernacle makes this point.
We must do what we can, but we must realize that the final product is really out of
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Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the
founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center
for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University
of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 30 books to
his credit, including, "Twerski on Chumash" (Bible), from which this was excerpted (Sales of this book help fund JWR).
© 2007, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.