A few years ago I spent two years diligently studying how to day trade. I analyzed thousands of charts and watched the market for hours on-end looking for the winning setups that I learned. Over that time I met a number of profitable traders who took an interest in my sincerity and mentored me. Although I had some good runs, I never became a consistently profitable trader because I always imagined that ‘I was there already’. If I would see some success, my ego convinced me to trade more aggressively. If I suffered a few losses in a row, I’d deviate from my system to ‘make up the losses’ and I had a hard time seeing things without bias. It’s interesting to note that all the traders I befriended who were successful started with at least 10 years of poor trading. Success isn’t something you can learn and apply without failure. In life we must fail to gain experience and have success.
Sometimes we think ‘we’re there already’! The truth is that we can reach great heights intellectually quite fast and in a way we get ahead of ourselves. Rebbe Nachman says in Torah 25 that at first we need to learn many pre-requisites before we can understand something. But after we get it we don’t need all the previous steps and we can understand it in just one grasp. The challenge is that our bodies and actions have a hard time following suit to the quickness of our minds.
Reb Nosson taught (הל פריה ורביה ג, טו) that this was King Solomon’s mistake as well. The Torah forbade a king from marrying too many women because they will turn his heart away from God. Solomon reasoned that because of his great wisdom and purity he can marry many women and he wouldn’t deviate. Not only that, he felt that with his pure intentions, of marrying many gentile women, he would be able to subdue the side of evil and change the spiritual world as we know it. This was his motive for marrying the daughter of Pharaoh on the day the Temple was consecrated. On his highest day, he wanted to uplift and rectify the lowest place of impurity.
We find this idea over and over in Tanach. Korach saw that Samuel the Prophet will descend from him and reasoned that he should have a more esteemed leadership role. Samson marries Delila, (which means to raise up), thinking he can raise the sparks from the dark side. But, as we know, she ultimately caused his downfall. And finally, in this week’s portion, Zimri, the Prince of the Tribe Simeon, saw that Cozbi, the Midianite princess, was his soul’s destined partner and was defiantly intimate with her causing a plague that, had not Phinehas ended, nearly killed-out all of Israel in the desert.
One of the lessons the Rebbe taught often was the need to be simple in our devotions and not pursue sophistication. He even said over an amazing story about this idea. (See here). We all have great yearning and deep spiritual potential. We often have glimpses of awakening and revelation in worldly and spiritual matters. But we can’t get caught up in our thinking and imagination. We have to be honest with ourselves and love who we are now and appreciate where we are holding. If we seek sophistication, we’ll cause ourselves unwanted anguish. But if we can be patient and consistently progress at our own pace, we will definitely look back and see the big mountain we climbed over time.