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Rabbi Berzansky - Parshat Shemot

Achieving the Unachievable


Did you ever wonder how some people can walk barefoot on broken glass or karate-chop ten bricks with their bare hands? What about the mother who picked up a car all by herself to save her trapped child from underneath it? R. Chaim Shmuelevitz writes that we all actually have such superhuman strengths deep down inside of us. We inherited them from Adam HaRishon.

Before the sin of the Eitz Hadaas, Chazal tell us that Adam HaRishon was able to touch the heavens as well as reach both ends of the universe. They were not referring to his physical dimensions, says R. Shmuelevitz, but rather to his innate superhuman strengths. He had the ability to go beyond time and space, as well as to achieve the unachievable.

Chazal tell us that even after the sin, Adam never lost his superhuman strengths — they were just buried deep inside of him and his descendants to follow. Consequently, even today, inside every one of us these superhuman strengths can be found.

R. Shmuelevitz brings many Torah narratives where people actually achieved “the unachievable” because of these strengths. He explains that Basya’s arm did not miraculously stretch and then miraculously shrink back down to size. Rather, Basya knew how to utilize her superhuman strengths that she inherited from Adam and with them bypassed the laws of nature.

When Yaakov Avinu met Rachel for the first time, he was able to roll off that enormous rock from the well as if he was taking off a bottle cap (when it should have taken tens of people to roll it off). These events were definitely miraculous, but they were not miracles; they were just people utilizing their own superhuman strengths, which they “inherited” from Adam HaRishon.

R. Shmuelevitz writes that anybody who is willing to “think big” and focus intently on his goal can channel his superhuman strengths and accomplish “the impossible.” That means we all can concentrate during davening, host a Sheva Brachos, learn a mishmor, or not get upset at our friends and family if we want to. We can even finish Shas as well, or establish a chessed organization, a neshei or even a Kollel. Practically speaking, it is difficult to generate such energy on our own. However, external obligations can help. For example, people find the wherewithal to finish a project when they are being pressed by a deadline.

So too, by creating external obligations to motivate us, we might surprise ourselves as to what we could accomplish. Shabbos afternoon, for example, is a difficult time to learn. The chulent works like a sleeping pill and our beds call to us. To find the resources to muster up enough strength to make it to the Beis Medrash is far from easy. Here is the place to incorporate that obligatory chavrusa that could help bring one’s strengths to fruition.

In conclusion, we all have inside of us superhuman strengths that we inherited from Adam HaRishon. Every one of us has the means to finish Shas, to build that Kollel, or to host that Sheva Brachos. Perhaps if we start on a smaller scale and utilize our external obligations, we might one day actually reach the “unreachable.”


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