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Home » Emor, Events in the News, Featured

Emor: Your Best Days Are Still Ahead

Submitted by on May 14, 2016 – 11:46 pmNo Comment | 1,154 views

A Homerun

Something magical happened in San Diego in the spring of 2016. Bartolo Colón, a pitcher of nearly forty-three years of age, proved that his best days are still ahead of him. He became the oldest player in Major League Baseball, to hit his first homerun. Bartolo has terrorized batters for twenty years with his nasty fastballs. He racked up more than two-hundred-and-twenty wins in his illustrious career. He has even earned the coveted Cy Young Award, but Bartolo never hit a homerun.

Had you asked the professionals they would have told you that Bartolo would never hit a homerun. If he had never hit one in his youth, he wouldn’t hit one now. Bartolo proved them wrong.

The message is, never say never. It is never too late to redefine yourself and discover success on a magnitude you never imagined. Just because you spent the last thirty years doing one thing, doesn’t mean that you can’t follow your dreams into another arena and experience unmitigated success. Your best days are still ahead.

You might be a successful doctor, but who is to say you can’t become a famous comedian? You might be a hotshot financial advisor, but who said you can’t become a teacher and impact generations? Bartolo wasn’t content to be a fabulous pitcher. He never gave up and he hit that big one. You can too.

Best Days Are Still Ahead

Rabbi Akiva is the classic example. He was forty years old before he opened a Torah book. He was sixty-four years old before he could teach others. By that time, he had lived most of his life, but the world had yet to meet the real Rabbi Akiva. It was only late in his career that he began to teach, and boy did he teach. He hit the all-time teaching homerun.

But Rabbi Akiva did not stop there. After he taught twenty-four thousand students, that is a lot of students when you think of it, he was ready to pass the baton to them. But tragedy struck and they all passed away. The elderly sage came out of retirement and returned to teaching. Acting with the vigor and spunk of a young man, Rabbi Akiva found five new students and taught them to teach others. The five of them went on to teach the next generation.

It is never too late to start over and find unimaginable success. So you tried and failed and tried again and failed again, what should you do? Get up and try yet again. Albert Einstein had a failing grade when he was a child; his teachers nearly gave up on him. He went on to teach himself and became the Einstein we know today. For every one of Thomas Edison’s inventions he had many failures. Failure never stopped him and he kept at it. Eventually he came up with the lightbulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera.

If failure didn’t stop Edison, success need not stop us. Just because we are good at one thing, doesn’t mean we aren’t good at another. Your best days are still ahead of you so long as you believe they are. The day you start thinking your best days are behind you, they probably are.

The Children of Aaron

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the Torah so often describes our people as children? The children of Israel, the children of Aaron. Why are we always children? When do we ever get to become adults?

The answer is that we become adults, when we give up on the idea of growing. So long as you are alive, you have room to grow. And if you grow, you will look back to today and realize you were just a child. So long as there is a curious child in you that is willing to seek answers, your best days are still ahead of you. The day we stop being children, is the day we have stopped living. then we are just passing time… waiting for the end.

The Torah calls us children because a vibrant living person, is indeed a child on the trajectory of growth. May we always be children. May we never earn the sobriquet, adult.

Give Credit

There is yet another reason the Torah calls us children. So long as we are children, we appreciate, adore and learn from our parents. When we become adults we consider ourselves smarter than our predecessors. Adults are smart, cunning and wise. Adults are talented, strong and capable. Adults don’t need anyone to tell them what to do. Adults believe they know.

The Torah comes along and calls us children. You want to enjoy the privilege of adulthood? Remember who brought you here. Remember who taught you, who trained you, who fed you and who clothed you. Remember who loved you, who birthed you, who carried you and who conceived you.

Without your parents, you would not be here today. Give credit where credit is due. Don’t grow haughty over your talents and achievements. If you amount to something, it is because of what your parents did for you. Thus the Torah opens its sermon to the priests by calling them the children of Aaron. You want to enjoy the privilege of priesthood, remember where you come from. You are the children of Aaron.

Our Jewish Parents

Judaism derives from tradition. We learn from our forbearers, who learned from theirs. We don’t reinvent the wheel because we recognize that the generations before us knew better. They were a step closer to Moses and Sinai. Their chain of tradition was a link shorter than ours.

Jews never think to outsmart their predecessors. Jews never lose respect for the wisdom of the ancients. Jews remain forever children, who learn from the teachings of their parents. We might be old and wise, we might be parents of our own children and teachers of our own students, but in our minds we continue to be children. Everything we teach, everything we believe and everything we know, is based on what our parents and teachers taught us.[1]

There is an old joke about a child who came home from school and asked his mother what happened to the Jewish adults. His teacher taught him that the children of Israel came out of Egypt and the children of Israel crossed the Reed Sea and the children of Israel ate the Manna. Where were the adults all this time?

Joke aside, the answer is that the adults never made it out. Those who thought they were smarter, those who refused to receive, those who thought they knew better, those Jews remained in Egypt. May we be forever children with our best days ahead of us and may we be forever children with a love and respect for those who came before us.

[1] Drash Moshe Leviticus 21:1.

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