This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2017.
"There is nothing impossible under the sun. For all that’s impossible just waits to be done."
When the Wright Brothers told the world they wanted to build a transport that could allow people to travel through the air, they were told it would never happen. Years later, when Amelia Earhart wanted to fly an airplane and become the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean, people thought her to be mad. When George Lucas took his first Star Wars movie to FOX, the studio heads were certain it would be a box office disaster, giving it as little support as possible. All were told, “You cannot accomplish this,” at some point along their journey. Yet, they forged ahead, undaunted by what others would perceive as failure or defeat.
In this week’s portion of Shmini, we at last come to the place where the Tabernacle is awakened. If you’ll recall, the previous few portions were all about how this holy sanctuary was to be constructed, the sacrifices that were to take place there, and so on. Now, the walls are stable, the sacrifices are prepared, and the structure is ready. Aaron, the High Priest arrives to perform the initiation, and yet the energy is not brought to bear. The Light does not descend. The structure is not awakened.
Immediately, Aaron accepts responsibility. After all, it had been he who enabled the creation of the Golden Calf. Aaron claims it is his own fault that the Light will not come, and he begins to doubt if he is meant to be the High Priest at all. Moses consoles and inspires Aaron. Together, they decide to try harder. They pray together. They cry together. They bow themselves down in humility. Low and behold, the Light descends and the Tabernacle becomes a live force, a beacon of Light which will allow the Israelites to make their connection to God.
"Persistence is one of the greatest spiritual qualities."
There are so many lessons to be learned from this story, but one of the simplest is also perhaps the most powerful: Don’t give up. Just because it seems like something isn’t happening right now doesn’t mean it’s never meant to. When you’ve done all you were supposed to and still you do not succeed, try again. Put in a little more effort. Strive a little harder. This tenacity of spirit is both the essence of this story, as well as the energy of the week. There is a force that exists all around us right now that will test us, pushing us to meet the challenges that often feel to us impossible.
It is no coincidence that this comes just a week after Pesach. How many of us have big plans for the new and improved version of ourselves after such a holiday, and how many of us fail to meet that expectation right away? Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Get back on the horse, and keep going. You’ll never know what you are capable of if you don’t keep trying.
The ancient kabbalists understood the importance of such fortitude. In fact, there is a line of the Ana Beko'ach prayer specifically for spiritual endurance. This is because persistence is one of the greatest spiritual qualities. It is what helps us to pass the tests, and enables us to keep reaching for our soul’s potential.
From groundbreaking inventors to bestselling authors, those with great success stories all had one thing in common. They knew a most profound spiritual truth: It is not great ideas nor great talent that make one a success, but great persistence.