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07/18/2023 06:49:06 PM

Jul18

We cannot change our fate, but we can change our destiny

Many years ago, an English family journeyed to Scotland for a summer holiday.  The mother and father were looking forward to the time away with their young son. But one day, the son wandered off by himself, and he found an abandoned swimming hole. Naturally, he took off his clothes and jumped in.
 
The boy was immediately attacked by vicious cramps, and he cried out for help as he struggled to stay afloat.  Luckily, a farm boy working in a nearby field heard him and came running.  He dove into the water and pulled the nearly drowned boy to safety.
 
The next day the father went to meet the young Scot who had saved his son’s life.  As the two engaged in conversation, the Englishman asked the boy what he planned to do with his future.  The lad answered, “Oh, I suppose I’ll be a farmer like my father.”
            “Well, is there something else you would rather do?” asked the grateful father.
            “Oh, yes!” he replied. “I have always wanted to be a doctor.  But we are poor people and could never afford to pay for my education.”
 
“You shall have your heart’s desire,” said the English gentleman.  “Make your plans, and I’ll take care of the costs.”  The farmer’s son took up the offer and became a doctor.
 
Many years later, in December of 1943, the prime minister of England, Winston Churchill, became dangerously ill with pneumonia in North Africa.  Sir Alexander Fleming, who had discovered the new wonder drug penicillin, was summoned.  Flying in from England, Dr. Fleming administered the drug to the ailing prime minister.  And thus, for a second time he saved Churchill’s life.  For you see it was Fleming who dove into the swimming hole and rescued the boy Winston Churchill from drowning. 
 
I like this story because it teaches us an important lesson.  It reminds us that a good deed can be rewarded.  A boy saves a life and is sent to medical school.  A father sends a poor boy to medical school, and later on his son is cured by the doctor’s discovery.  But there is another vital lesson implied by the story, a lesson which reflects a central teaching of Jewish thought: We cannot change our fate, but we can change our destiny.  Winston Churchill was fated to almost drown in the swimming hole and to contract pneumonia in North Africa.  But his destiny—whether he lived or died—was not preordained.  The righteous actions of other human beings played a role in what happened to him.
 
In short, we never know how our good deeds will pay off in the end.

Wed, February 21 2024 12 Adar I 5784