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HomeFoundations of JudaismJewish OutlookWhen It’s Out of Your Hands
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When It’s Out of Your Hands    

When It’s Out of Your Hands

How many times in our lives does it feel like our fate is determined by a coin toss? It’s one thing to lose fair and square, but to lose for no reason?


Have you ever risked a $20 million account over a single game of rock, paper, scissors? 


Two salespeople from the two main auction houses in Tokyo did just that. There was a rich tycoon who had a massive art collection he wanted sold off. The team that put together the best combination of bidders and auctioneers would get the commission totaling $20 million.  


The two salespeople pitched a fierce battle for the business. The tycoon soon found himself under a tsunami of dinners, gifts, flowers, and all sorts of subtle “reminders” about which one would take better care of his interests 

He invited each to make their presentation.  


Each pitch talked about the company, their history, and the clientele they would be bringing to the auction, and the estimated income the event would generate.  


Both did a spectacular job. The tycoon couldn’t decide.  


He sent them both a letter, with his accountants and lawyers co-signing, inviting them to his office the next Monday. They would play one round of rock, paper, scissors 


The winner would get the account.  


Nether slept for the next three days. For all their hard work, it boiled down to something that had nothing to do with hard work. An account that would determine the career of not only the salesperson, but the people in their entire department rested on the outcome of a game none of them played since 1964.  


The day arrived and both salespeople sat down. Each of two accountants handed out a piece of paper. They had to write their choice.  


The lawyers collected the papers, then showed them to the accountants, who notarized each choice. They showed the results to the tycoon who nodded in approval. 


After a few tense moments, he announced. “The first candidate chose scissors, the second chose paper. Candidate #1 gets the account.” 


After all our schooling, on-the-job training, networking, and hard work, the outcome of a lot in our lives is out of our hands a lot more than we choose to accept.  


At First Glance 

How many times in our lives does it feel like our fate is determined by a coin toss? 


We plan, work, and toil to achieve something only to watch it fall through our fingers over a completely trivial pothole:  

  • - A promotion given to someone who told a witty joke at the last meeting before the decision was made. 

  • - Getting a B instead of an A because the professor disagreed with your personal politics. 

  • - A stock that went up under the same scenario 15 times over the past two years, but for no reason whatsoever, falls 20% the moment you invest under the same circumstances. 


It’s one thing to lose fair and square, even to lose if you know the other side cheated – but to lose for no reason?  

It can feel like the greatest injustice. It’s a personal insult to your efforts.  


Look Deeper 

When you give it your all and things don’t go as planned for the most ridiculous reasons, rejoice!  

It’s a gift from Hashem.  


Of course, everything comes from Hashem. But the more far-fetched the development, the easier it is to see where it came from.  


Take Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Naftali Bennett, for example. 


None of these men were supposed to rise to the positions they reached in life. How did Barack Obama defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008? How did Donald Trump do the same in 2016? How on earth did Naftali Bennett pull it off in 2021? 


Both presidents Trump and Obama changed the world. Since they left their mark, nothing has been the same.  


Get ready for some very interesting times in Israel.  


When something happens that makes totally no sense, for no logical reason, Hashem is doing it for our good. He is doing it to humble us into reaffirming that we don’t achieve anything in life by the might of our right arm or the strength of our intellect, even when we work really hard! 


Especially when we work really hard. We can plant, plow, and painstakingly pull the weeds out of our fields all day long. It is only once Hashem decides to send rain that what you built will bear fruit.  


It is all up to Him. He decides everything.  


Losses in life are a chance to bow before God.  


They are the ultimate opportunity to discover the brightest sparks of light, always hidden deep within the harshest concentrations of darkness.  


It’s a great way to make G-d happy.  


Does Hashem rejoice when we praise Him after a raise? Once our children get top honors? When we are made “man of the year” by our local community? 


Or is it when we lose in the most humiliating fashion and then say Gam Zu L’tova! Its all for the good!” God favors the brokenhearted.  


When it Happens to Us 

To lose in life sets the stage for our greatest blessings.  


In The Path of the Just, the Ramchal defines our purpose in life: To perform mitzvot and gain merit towards the Next World. Great, got it.  


But what happens when you spend 18 months running 4 times a week to be able to reach 20 kilometers in 90 minutes? What about working 60 hours a week trying to set up a successful business – just to feed your children, or to be able to afford to live in a religious Jewish neighborhood? 


Even toiling day after day, hour after grueling hour in purely holy endeavors like mastering Gemara, becoming a Rabbi, or building a Yeshiva, the daily grind of the goal seeps us in so much labor, we forget why we are doing it in the first place.  


Pursuing life goals erode our eyesight from the big picture to the short story – what is happening right now. The more we work on a goal, the greater place that goal takes center stage.  


It makes it easier to put the outcome of that goal in our hands rather than His.  


When one of those once-in-a-decade moments comes that proves to be a make or break for such a goal, and it has nothing to do with the effort you put in, but whether or not you choose rock or scissors, that is God reminding you why you are here to pursue goals in the first place, and Who ultimately, will bless them with success.  


It’s a blessing that Hashem reminds us in the most candid manner. He is giving us the chance to say thank You for giving us paths, goals, and purpose to do His will. He is giving us a place to take all that effort, even the misdirected focus, and offer it to Him as a sacrifice in that one moment.  


The more ridiculous the setback, the clearer the chance to see Hashem behind it and discover the huge blessing He engineered for us.  



David Ben Horinlives in Afula with his wife and children. Since moving to Israel, David has discovered Hashem, Torah, Emunah, hiking, coding GatsbyJS Apps and hearing stories about the Land of Israel from anyone excited to tell them. Email him your favorite Israel   story   at:  david.ben.horin@spreadyourenthusiasm.com.  

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  I thank Hashem for the setbacks and the difficulties
Dr Alex Pister7/13/2021 12:50:58 AM

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