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I'll Have Another

Thursday, 24 May, 2012 - 11:08 pm

We’re not yet sure whether I’ll Have Another will indeed notch another win to earn the first Triple Crown in 34 years. But the journey from horseracing obscurity to national spotlight could not have been more unlikely. I’ll have another’s owner was a professor of philosophy and jockey Mario Gutierrez was a virtual unknown prior to his win at the Kentucky Derby.

When asked about his chances for the Belmont, Gutierrez did not take the bait. He just wants to focus on one race at a time and do his best.

In fact, it might be that very attitude of just focusing on the challenge at hand that can help an athlete win. If we get caught up in the long view, we might be overwhelmed. One step at a time – as they say – can be more successful.

***

The Israelites of old practiced this very idea when they left Egypt 3324 years ago. As they shed the shackles of slavery and embraced the vastness of freedom, they needed marching orders. Yes, they knew their overall goal was liberty – physical and spiritual – and arrival at their homeland, Israel. But beyond that the details were not spelled out.

They acted with pure faith, following G-d into the unknown of the wilderness.  Shortly, they encountered the never-again-repeated experience of Revelation at Sinai. They became the Jewish people upon receiving the Torah.

 In a letter written in 1955 the Lubavitcher Rebbe of Righteous Memory puts it this way:

“This great rise from the abyss of Egypt to the sublime heights of Sinai was attained by pure and simple faith in G-d, from the day when parents and children, women and infants, several million souls in all, set out on the trek through the desert, not dismayed by the irrationality of it, but simply obeying the Divine call with absolute trust. This won special Divine favor in the words of the Prophet: 'I remember unto thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thy betrothal, thy going after Me into the wilderness. It is this faith that carried the Jews through the ages, an insignificant physical minority in the midst of a hostile world, a spot of light threatened by an overwhelming darkness. It is this absolute faith in G-d that we need nowadays more than ever before.”

***

Sometimes, faith is necessary to focus on the here and now. And by doing so, we will certainly reach the grand destination.

As the Rebbe reminds us in that letter, a person “will walk most steadily and assuredly if he will not be conscious of his walk and not seek to consciously coordinate the hundreds of muscles operative in locomotion, or he would be unable to make his first step.”

Figuring out all the world’s problems can be daunting. But figuring out what I’m meant to do in the here and now – that’s within reach! Ever since Sinai we have been taking those steps. And this week on Shavuot we take yet another step forward. As we recommit to the Torah and its precepts, we remember that each step counts.

If we truly care about the end goal of bringing Moshiach and making this world a dwelling place for the Almighty, then we should take our cue from a horse’s name and – when it comes to mitzvos – always say, ”I’ll have another!”

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