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    Ambition – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Does Judaism have a problem with people being ambitious?

    A. Alan Marshall, an Australian author who overcame polio, wrote a book, “I Can Jump Puddles!”

    An American educator interviewed at the age of 70 said he was still climbing mountains, at least metaphorically.

    In the Book of Genesis (chapter 28), Jacob dreams of a ladder that joins earth and heaven: and rabbinic sages put into God’s mouth the words, “You have a ladder – so start climbing!”

    A moving film depicts a paralysed victim who determines, “I’m going to move that toe!”

    That’s ambition, to jump puddles, to climb mountains, to ascend ladders, to move toes.

    The Ten Commandments tell you not to covet, but they don’t tell you not to want to achieve.

    Actually the Tenth Commandment needs to be looked at in full – it doesn’t say, “Don’t desire a house!”, but “Don’t covet your neighbour’s house!”

    A person has to be impelled by desire in order to get somewhere, so long as it’s not at someone else’s expense.

    Choose your goals wisely and sensibly, and when you’re almost at the goal, make sure there’s another goal ahead of you. Always have a kettle on the boil.

    There will be obstacles, and you’ll often have to summon up immense physical, mental and moral courage.

    Even if you never succeed in getting to the moon, you’ll get further this time than you did before. You’ll certainly get higher than those who never even make the attempt.

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