What Separates Successful People From the Pack? - שופטים

Friday, 2 September, 2022 - 2:24 pm

What Separates Successful People From the Pack?

"You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the Lord, your God, is giving you, for your tribes, and they shall judge the people [with] righteous judgment."

This verse, the commandment to set up a justice system, is the opening statement of this week's Torah portion, the portion of Shoftim.

The Chassidic commentaries explain that it also has another meaning. Every individual person is called upon to appoint figurative "judges" and "officers" at their own "gates", at their eyes, ears, and mouth, the "gates through which we interact with the world. "Judges" refers to our intellectual ability to evaluate what stimuli we want to allow into our consciousness; our inner "Judge" differentiates between what is a productive or destructive interaction with the people around us. Yet, Judges are not enough because we often know which action is correct, but occasionally, that is not enough to motivate action because we choose the more comfortable, momentarily convenient path. The Torah, therefore, tells us to establish "officers" who are responsible for implementing the judge's verdict. The appointment of "officers" represents the ability to commit to taking the right action despite internal or external obstacles. 

Apparently this ancient wisdom is true not only for our spiritual growth and interpersonal relationships but also for achieving success in the material world. While reading the Chassidic commentary, my brother sent me an article from with the catchy headline: "Warren Buffett Says What Separates Successful People From the Pack Comes Down to 1 Simple Word”’ the article quotes him as saying: "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything”, and it was the late Steve Jobs who said: "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done."


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