Don’t delay – use all your opportunities today
RABBI SHMUEL BLOCH
Ronald could have $35-bil
Imagine you were Ronald Gerald Wayne.
How would you be feeling today knowing what happened over 35 years ago?
Everybody knows Steve Jobs was one of the founders of Apple which produces computers, tablets and is now a world leader in the Smartphone industry. Less famous, but still recognized for his genius and his creative talent is Steve Wozniak who also was a founder of Apple. Yet very few have heard of Ronald Gerald Wayne who was the third founder of Apple. On April 2st 1976, together with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, they all created the “Apple computer company” as it was known then.
Ronald Wayne was given a 10% share in the new corporation but sold his stock for 800 dollars two weeks later. A year after leaving Apple, Ronald Wayne received 1500 dollars for his agreement to forfeit any future claims against the new company.
If Ronald Wayne would have kept his 10% stock, in 2011 it would have been worth 35 billion Dollars.
As Luke Dormhel writes, “In Apple lore, Ron Wayne is the man who won the lottery but lost the ticket. He’s Cupertino’s version of Stuart Sutcliffe or Pete Best, the musicians who played with The Beatles but left before the band made it big. Unlike Wozniak and Jobs, who became multimillionaires at a young age, Wayne’s finances have been “in a hole for the last 40 years.”
Ronald Wayne had a golden opportunity presented to him. He was present at the birth of the PC (personal computer) revolution and part of history. He had stock in a company that everybody knew would change the world. He could have kept his stock a little while longer and waited to see how things turned out. He chose not to and his life has been affected ever since.
Opportunities like the one Ron Wayne had abound all the time. Our problem is that all too often, we do not recognise them when they emerge. Neither do we immediately translate our inspiration that was generated from the opportunity into concrete action. Sadly, when we finally are aware of fantastic and amazing prospects are placed before us, by then it is too late and the opportunity has dissipated and gone.
We need to inculcate into our mindset, the reality that opportunities do not last forever. If a viable possibility to achieve something great happens, then one must explore it and realize its potential into reality as soon as possible, despite the hard work and tremendous effort involved. The reason for this is because if one does not investigate potential prospects and chances, one will always wonder “what could have been” many years later. Regaining lost opportunities is extremely difficult and sometimes not a viable option.
In this week’s Parshah, when Hashem split the sea for the Jewish people there were individuals who had the greatest spiritual opportunity of them all. Sadly enough, they never took it.
The Jewish people burst into song after witnessing the miraculous events that Hashem performed for them at the splitting of the sea.
“This is my God and I will glorify him, the God of my father and I will exalt him” (Genesis Chapter 15 verse 2)”.
Rashi, based on the Midrash, (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 3,9) tell us that at the crossing of the Red Sea, even the maidservants witnessed a mystical vision greater than that experienced by the Prophets such as Yechezkel (Ezekel). These maidservants had a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop and build upon an exceptional spiritual experience that very few others in history were privileged to have.
However, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the famed Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva, points out in his book “Sichos Mussar” that despite all that a maidservant saw and experienced, she still remained a maidservant. On the other hand, Yechezkel, through his own unrelenting toil and determined efforts became one of the greatest prophets and a leader of the Jewish people. A maidservant had a tremendous opportunity given to her for elevation and greatness. However she never capitalised on it by taking some positive action. The inspiration she had dissipated and disappeared. She never rose to the level of prophesy that Yechezkel achieved, despite having a greater spiritual vision than he did at that majestic and unique moment.
In a similar vein, Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz notes how we read about the nations of the world reaction to the drowning of the Egyptians and the splitting of the Sea.
Nations heard and they trembled, terror gripped the dwellers of Philistia” (Genesis chapter 15 verse 14). “Then the chieftains of Edom were confounded, trembling gripped the powers of Moab, all the dwellers of Canaan dissolved”. (Genesis Chapter 15, verse 15)
However what happened afterwards?
The answer is: nothing.
These nations of the world had an awakening and a special moment of inspiration. An unparalleled and unique event took place which changed world history. These nations heard about it and could have responded in some way. Again, a marvellous opportunity arose to achieve something great. Again, despite being affected by the events they heard about, the nations of the world missed their opportunity to change and remained the same as they were before.
When it comes to learning more about Judaism, our generation is privileged to have opportunities that were inconceivable forty years ago. Back then very little was translated in English. Learning opportunities to grow in one’s Judaism were few and far between and were not widely available for the general populace.
Not so today.
In 2015, opportunities to enrich oneself with Jewish knowledge are freely available to all who seek it. Beautiful Siddurim (Prayer books) with magnificent English translations are available. Publishing Houses such as Artscroll and Feldheim have translated the Chumash, Mishna, Talmud and many other works into easy to read English. There are literally thousands of Jewish books catering to every taste on countless topics. On the internet, there are so many websites with outstanding Jewish content all freely available. So many audio lectures by the greatest Jewish speakers are available to download for free. One can learn with a study partner anywhere in the world with Skype at no cost.
In our times, Hashem has given us a marvellous and incredible opportunity to learn more about our heritage. Saying that facilities do not exist in our generation to further Jewish awareness is not a credible statement.
It is all there, easily available to us. All we need to do is make a small effort to begin learning about Judaism. Life is too short and precious for regrets. Don’t procrastinate and negate the magnificent opportunity that Hashem has given to discover who you really are. Ronald Wayne could have been so rich if only he would have availed himself of the precious opportunity that was available to him at that time. Let us make the most of the amazing opportunities that exist all around us to learn more about our precious heritage. You will be enriched spiritually and physically in so many different ways.
Take the opportunity to learn some Torah. It will be the greatest and most important decision you will ever make.