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Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Nitzavim – Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20
Repeatability is one of the coolest aspects of science. Isn’t such orderliness irresistible? Articles all over the Internet purport to tell you the “SCIENCE of….” Others give you “The Solution to…, Backed by Science.” Parshas Nitzavim explains the surprising barrier of believing in predictability:
“For this commandment that I command you today, it is not hidden from you…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 30:11)
In this Sabbath’s parsha there is little time left for Moses to teach the Israelites what they need to know to live in the land. First, he renews the covenant. He again warns against idolatry. Then he prophesies what will happen when the Jewish people forget his charge.
The Problem of Idolizing Science
Science isn’t nearly as predictive as we think. Take a well-known fact. Smoking will kill you. Well actually, only 50% of smokers die prematurely from smoking. Wait, wait! It gives you deadly lung cancer, right?! Actually, fewer than 10% of lifelong smokers get lung cancer.
Establishing fact through the scientific method requires following many fruitless paths. Thomas Edison’s comment that, “I did not fail. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” isn’t just a statement of tenacity. It exposes the unpredictability of scientific research.
Science, supposedly the pinnacle of human logic, is non-linear. Why would you expect life to work according to the mechanism if I do A I will get B?
You | Surprising Barrier | Your Goals
Have you figured out the obstacle between you and your objective? When you set the expectation that by doing a particular action you’ll get a certain result, too often you get disappointment instead.
G-d makes this point when He says you can live up to His standard. It’s lofty. I may be impossible from where you are now. Don’t expect that the first few times you try you’ll succeed. Creating a relationship with the Almighty takes a lifetime. You’ll have setbacks along the way. Progress won’t be linear.
Your expectations about achieving a goal keep you from actually attaining it. You may want to be wealthy. You’ve tried a few ideas that didn’t pan out. The expectation they would or that you don’t have what it takes now hold you back.
The same may apply to building an enduring marriage or raising amazing children. G-d didn’t make life linear. He made it so you will grow. Set a goal. Make a plan to reach it. Take action without expectation. If it works you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If it doesn’t, move on to plan B. Never let the expectation of success get in the way of the next step you have to take to succeed.
You can overcome the surprising barrier between you and your goals. The path is not hidden unless you cloud it with expectations.
How have expectations hobbled you in the past? Please comment below.
Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!