Mackay, Idaho, was a copper and silver mining town. “There were over 1,200 people living on this mountain,” Mayor Wayne Olsen said to CBS News in a recent interview. “Now it’s just the squirrels.” Over the years, the town’s population dwindled, until the school was preparing to close for lack of students.
And then suddenly, everything changed. Some local businessmen discovered water springs and are now bottling and selling it. They brought so many new jobs to Mackay that the school has doubled in size. And they’re projected to do 50 million dollars in sales this year.
Why do we need to know this?
As we prepare for a new year, we may look at ourselves and think that there’s nothing left to discover. Be it in our avodas Hashem (service of G-d), our relationships or family life, things seem to be the way that they are and they’re not going to change.
Some of us may feel as desolate as the Mackay mining town.
But we always have more resources to uncover!
The Baal Shem Tov says: “Bnei Yisroel (the Jewish People) are called eretz cheifetz (a desirable land), for they possess numerous ‘precious articles’ in the love and fear of Hashem, and in fine character traits […] It is clear that throughout the earth there are wellsprings of living water; the difference between them is only that some are near the surface, while others are far.”
Even if we were out of business for a while, to the extent that our internal “school,” i.e., intellectual or emotional interests, are almost closed down, we may be able to tap into a new resource. Spring water is purified by piercing through rocks. Our deepest strengths are revealed by working through our most difficult challenges and obstacles.
The Frierdiker Rebbe (previous Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson) adds that G-d puts us in any given location because there’s a resource within a fellow Yid waiting for us to discover it. The heart of every Yid is awake, he explained, and it’s up to us to dig deep and reveal it. “Bringing these traits to the surface depends entirely upon the individual stimulating them.” Like springs of water, some are several meters beneath the surface, and some are many more. “Everything therefore depends on the well-digger, his patience and perseverance.”
This week’s Torah Portion, Vayeilech, opens with the words “Vayeilech Moshe”, “And Moshe went, and he spoke the following words to all of Israel.”
But the Torah doesn’t specify where he went.
The Kli Yakar (a commentary) explains that on his final day, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses) went to reach out to every Jew to encourage them to do teshuvah (repentance). Most people don’t look for self-improvement and certainly have difficult seeing their own faults. Moses knew this and therefore didn’t wait for them to come to him; he reached out to them.
Let’s be encouraged to dig deeper into ourselves, our loved ones, and our fellow Yid. With G-d’s help, riches abound—spiritually and materially.
Good Shabbos and a G’mar Chasima Tova, May you be inscribed for a Good, Happy, Healthy, Sweet New Year!
Have a great Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman
Thanks to my cousin, Rabbi Mordechai Lipsker, of Brooklyn, NY for sharing the above Torah thought