Randy Wagner might have seemed crazy – but he knew what he was doing!
Can you imagine what life was like during the Generation of the Flood? People were going about life as usual, while a lone man spent a year building a massive ark. People would walk by and laugh, “What are you doing Noach?” they would ask. And Noach would tell them, “I’m building an ark. A flood will be coming soon and it will destroy the entire world!”
Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.
Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I‘m looking for a few days’ work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?”
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm.
“That’s my neighbor. In fact, it’s my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence an 8-foot fence — so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day — measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
It was a bridge… a bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched..
“You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.
“No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
Parshat Balak tells us the story about a king ready to destroy the Jewish people. His reasoning – without any provocation or cause – based on made-up images that perhaps only a lunatic could consider. Having seen that Bnei Yisrael were successful in destroying the two kings – Sichon and Og, he imagined that he was next in line. His plan – to hire a magician to curse the Jewish people into oblivion.
Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (1905-1994) – the Rebbe of Klausenberg was one of our generations greatest rabbis. He was known for his exceptional breadth of knowledge of all areas of Torah and his immense level of compassion for others.
Death! A word that conjures up little feelings of excitement – for most. Life – on the other hand, is the very purpose of existence. That word – when expressed in its most fullest manner, takes on feelings of joy and blessing.
A powerful motivational speech from Josh Shipp (Below). Once we are mature enough to realise the importance of others, one of our most important tasks is to take care of children, as the Torah teaches, “Where there are no kids (sic), there can be no goats” (Rashi to Isaiah 8:18). Everything about the goodness of this world begins with a child who grows up to become a success and to lead the next generation. When children are well taken care of and supported appropriately, “Educate the child according to his way; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), that child will grow up to become a success.
I am constantly inspired by seeing how others have reached their own success in life. To be sure, success does not equal the dollar amount showing in a bank account. Success can be anything one aspires to in one’s life. Sometimes – for me, success is completing studying a Torah book. When I manage to work through a volume of hundreds of pages in length, it brings me a great sense of satisfaction. I’ve done it! One day – I am at the beginning of the book, unable to imagine ever getting through such a thick work! Weeks or months later – I turn around and say that I have actually done it! Now… I must find the means and time to learn it a second time!
Success – we all want it! We all need it! As each day goes by, each of us strives to attain greater heights in our lives. Life is about growth. Every day should bring with it further success. When most of us are young, we tend to feel our achievements a lot easier. We work our way from kindergarten to primary school. From primary school to high school. From high school, we move onward. Some of us obtain a tertiary education – while others learn a craft. Some of us go on to work – just in order to be able to sustain ourselves. For the most part, this may constitute perhaps only a quarter of our lives.