In these stressful times, it is important to be tolerant and have a positive attitude toward our work, our family and other things that surround us each day, no matter what the challenge or disappointment.
According to teachings of the Talmud, a compendium of Jewish law and thought, one is to constantly strive to do more than expected, to always go the extra mile beyond "your ability." Indeed, by doing more than what is expected, we will make our own life more meaningful. Not just in our vocation, but as it relates to our family, religion, house of worship, friends and neighbors.
In "The Fred Factor," a best-selling book about doing more than what we are paid to do and more than what is expected, "Fred,"a real Postal Service letter carrier, demonstrates that the joy of his job is more than stuffing bills into a mailbox. It is by doing more than what is expected.
"Couldn't God have designed our lives so that we wouldn't need to encounter disappointments, challenges and toil every step of the way?"
The reality is that an easy life might be a meaningless life. A Jewish parable illustrates this point:
A wealthy nobleman was once touring his estate and came upon a peasant pitching hay. The nobleman was fascinated by the sight - flowing motions of the peasant's arms and shoulders and the graceful sweep of the pitchfork through the air. He so greatly enjoyed the spectacle that he struck a deal with the peasant: he would give him a gold coin every day if the peasant agreed to come to the mansion and display his hay-pitching technique in the nobleman's drawing room.
The next day, the peasant arrived at the mansion, hardly concealing his glee at his new line of "work." After swinging his empty pitchfork for an hour, he collected his gold coin - many times his usual reward for a week of backbreaking labor. However, by the following day, his enthusiasm had somewhat waned. Before the week was out, he announced that he was quitting his commission.
"I don't understand," puzzled the nobleman. "Why would you rather swing heavy loads outdoors in the winter cold and the summer heat, when you can perform an effortless task in the comfort of my home and earn many times your usual wages?"
"But master," said the man, "I'm not doing anything."
The sages of the Mishnah, the first compilation of the oral law, taught us "according to the camel is the load."
God knows His camels and doesn't load any one up with any more than he can handle. Our difficulties are our loads. God's principal interest is in our souls. We are put in this world to accomplish certain missions and we are given exactly the load that our soul is meant to handle, no less and no more.
Our positive attitude and willingness to go the extra mile for our spouse, our family, our religion and employer, will rub off on all around us. Even if we do not see the results immediately, we will be doing something.
Rabbi Zvi Konikov is director of Chabad of the Space and Treasure Coasts, 1190 A1A, Satellite Beach. He can be reached at contact@jewish brevard.com.