The rabbi was having a day full of communal obligations.
he had two Shiva houses to visit, homes where two community families were
mourning the loss of a loved one who had passed on.
The Levi and Schwartz
families were both bereaved after the passing of the elder Mr. Levi and the
elder Mr. Schwartz.
First the rabbi went to visit the Levi family and pay
“Rabbi!” the children wailed in unison. “It’s entirely
our fault!” “What is your fault?,” the rabbi asked, puzzled.
“We are to
blame for our father’s death!,” they tearfully explained. “We should have kept
our father here, with us, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and a loving
family. But no – we shipped him off to Florida and to a warmer
And there, he was all alone! Had we kept him here among the
doting descendants, who loved him so much, he’d still be alive!” To the Rabbi’s
regret, he couldn’t find the right words to console them. And, after all, maybe
they were right, and old Mr. Levi would still be among the living if he had
stayed at home.
Wishing the traditional blessing of “May you be comforted
among the mourners of Zion,” the Rabbi left the Levi house, and headed over to
the Schwartz residence.
“Rabbi!,” the children wailed in unison. “It’s
all our fault!” “What is your fault?,” the Rabbi asked, puzzled. He’d heard
these words just an hour ago at the Levi’s, but what was it this time? “We are
responsible for our father’s death!,” they tearfully explained.
Daddy here, with us, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and a loving family,
thinking that it was good for him. Oy! What a mistake! Had we done what was
right for him, we would have shipped him off to Florida and to a warmer climate.
And there, he’d still be alive, with the climate and the sun keeping him fit and
healthy – the cold weather here is a killer!” And suddenly, the rabbi
In life, and in business, we are constantly presented with
choices to make, with forks in the road, as it were. Nothing is ever as simple
and as easy as it sounds, so when things get a bit tough, we tend to think, “I
should have done the opposite.”
Marketers call it “buyer’s remorse.” A
customer might think, “Had I only bought that other brand, I’d be better off!”
You might think, “If I had only hired that other applicant for the job, things
would be so much better.” Or, “If I had hired a different lawyer, I would have
won that case for sure!” Rabbis, this one at least, call it “a waste of time and
Hindsight may be 20/20, but what many people don’t realize is
that many times hindsight doesn’t exist – even if they think it does.
you have term life insurance, then was it a mistake to pay for the past five
years? After all you are still alive – so it was a waste of money! Or was it? We
only know the results of the path we have taken, not the results of the path we
didn’t take. It often seems that that “other path” – the one we think we should
have taken – would have been obstacle-free, compared to the hardships of the
path we took.
Many a human being has fallen into the self imposed torture
of self-pity when they wail, “I should have done things differently!” And that
is especially true when well-meaning folks say “I told you so, I told you that
would happen!” Don’t listen to them. It’s pure negativity.
comes out of this train of thought. It only leads to negative self-confidence
and makes you afraid of moving forward (because you don’t want to be perceived
as stupid, or make another mistake again, right?). In general all you do when
you think these thoughts is create a downer atmosphere that is toxic to your
self-development and your success.
Wherever you stand right now, don’t
waste time or spend valuable energy focusing on the, “coulda, woulda and
shoulda” regrets of your situation. Instead, focus on where you are right
You have amassed a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in
your chosen field about what works, and what doesn’t. You got there through your
mistakes and failures.
As Steven Spielberg says: “failure is inevitable.
Success is elusive.”
Your failures are not negatives – they are the keys
to your success.
Wear them like badges of honor. It’s hard to do when you
are in the middle of a bad situation, or even just after you move beyond it. But
looking back from the future, those dark moments you’re experiencing now are
what you end up using as benchmarks to see just how far you have
After all, isn’t success coming out of failure what the story of
Hanukka is ultimately all about? Happy Hanukka, y’all! firstname.lastname@example.org
Issamar Ginzberg is a business adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi
who has been published in more than 50 business publications.