How we Prepare for the Future – Parshat Vezot Haberacha
Omni-temporal Man Part II
We all live for the future. We all plan for the future. We all make assumptions about the future. On some level we are constantly living our future and making guesses about what will happen – some of those guesses will be educated and some will be like a shot in the dark. The one thing in common is that our minds imagine what the future will be.
There are different kinds of guesses. Will the sun rise tomorrow? Will the wheat field grow wheat? Will elephants give birth to elephants? These are pretty certain bets.
Who will win the World Series? Will the Dow Jones go up or down? How about the 401k pension plan? The answer to these questions is much less certain.
There is a growing number of thinkers who believe that even how we view the future can impact how it will turn out. In fact, Henry Ford is quoted as having said: whether you believe you will succeed or you believe you will not succeed, you will be right.1 On some level, we decide how the future will turn out. Even if we fail, how we pick ourselves back up again and reassess depends largely on how we decide to access the defiant power of the human spirit present in each one of us.2
Even Moshe refers to this concept in Vezot Haberacha, the last parsha of the Torah. He blesses all the tribes right before he passes away. (I always get sad reading about his passing.) Moshe, in blessing his own tribe, Levi, references his own sin.3 Keli Yakar, feels that this is out of place and wonders why Moshe should even mention his own sin in a blessing. He answers by referring to the blessing received from Yaakov about 250 years earlier. In that previous blessing Yaakov curses the anger of Levi.4 The underlying belief seems to be that by focusing on and cursing Levi's anger, Yaakov had in some way caused it to be passed on through the generations to Moshe who was called out numerous times for expressing his anger.5 Being aware of how Yaakov viewed them somehow impacted their behavior. Moshe is now telling his own tribe that they can now disregard the "blessing" of Yaakov, which included the cursing of the anger as it has already been fulfilled through his own fallacious behavior in striking the rock and calling the people "rebels".4 In order to prevent this anger from continuing on in the following generations, Moshe decided to focus on the positive, allow for them to hAve a more positive attitude and blessing them to be in a teacher's role which would preclude using anger.
Recently, I was speaking with someone who was suffering from an orthopedic issue and was in quite some pain. He was quite proud of his ability to identify the pain, weakness, frustration and depression he felt. Yet the focus on the negative sensations reinforced his search for dis-ease. When all you're focusing on is the negative, guess what that does to your emotional health? Correct, it drags you down. In his description of the ailment, he also expressed feeling optimism, so I suggested that perhaps he could also put optimism on the list of how he feels. He was so taken by the idea that he could also feel optimism that he reported feeling a bit better already. He also said he plans to continue to note the optimism as well. This is a true view of reality for him - not to ignore the discomfort but to also acknowledge the positive and the strength within. This optimism in how he will experience his self-awareness in the future will impact positively upon him as has been shown time and again in scientific research.7
So we can focus on the positive in ourselves and project that to the future - live in the present and prepare for the future.
We live/plan/dream the future as we carry on with our past experiences and beliefs all the while living in the here and now making meaningful choices as we move through life. Putting all three together is a formidable task. Yet this is omni-temporal Man at his best – rising to the challenge.
Chazak Chazak Venitchazek!
Have A Great Shabbat!