Always Half Full
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Last week I attended a school assembly for young children at Kesser Torah College (Sydney) where my seven year old daughter was performing. When the school principal (Rabbi Noteh Glogauer - a great educator) was called upon to share a message with the children he performed a fascinating experiment. He filled a big jar halfway with colored water and explained to the children that this jar could be half-empty or half- full. He then proceeded to ask:
"How many of you think this jar is half-empty?" - Not one hand went up.
"How many of you think it is half-full?" - All hands went up.
I was totally blown away by this unanimous display of natural optimism. For the rest of the day I was bothered by one question. When do we lose this positive upbeat attitude? At what age does negativity and cynicism start to interfere and hold us back?
This Shabbos will mark the 18th Yohrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe - Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn (o.b.m.). The Rebbe's leadership, teachings and inspiration touched hundreds of thousands and had an unmistakable impact on world Jewry.
So many important themes and lessons emerge from the Rebbe's life and leadership. One of them is certainly the absolute determination never to lose the childlike optimism and positive outlook despite our maturity or intellectual development as we become adults.
In 1977 the Rebbe suffered a serious heart attack. The doctors wanting to caution the Rebbe explained that there was a 25% risk of a reoccurrence. Wanting to be sure that they were clear they asked the Rebbe if he understood what they had said. He replied: "Sure, you said that there was a 75% chance that it would never happen again."
To the Rebbe, there was always a bright side to every picture. There was always opportunity in every challenge. If we had achieved a goal, we had the ability to do more. There was never any limitation to what was possible. As long as we are alive we can continue growing, learning and doing - the sky is the limit. We just have to believe that it is possible.
The Rebbe was a scholar, a thinker, a sage and an intellectual giant. But most importantly he taught us to be a child and always see the jar as half full.