A tale told by technical support engineers goes as follows:

Larry was happily browsing online when his new computer suddenly went blank. He pressed the power button on and off multiple times, but that didn’t help. Knocking the monitor, banging on the keyboard, and yelling at the machine didn’t improve matters either. With all options exhausted he called customer service.

“This is Bill, to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“I’m Larry, and I’m having trouble with my new computer. The screen suddenly went blank and no matter what I do, it won’t turn back on.”

“Hmm…I see. If you look at the back of of it, do you see a cord plugged in to the computer?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Okay, good. Now, follow that cord to the end. Is it plugged into the wall?”

“Yes, of course it’s plugged into the wall!”

“I’m very sorry sir. I just thought there might be a simple solution. Okay, now please tell me, is there a cable going from the bottom of the computer to the monitor?”

“I can’t reach back there, and I can’t see whether there’s a cable. It’s too dark.”

“Ah, are you able to turn a light on to see?”

“No, I can’t.”

“Why not, sir?”

“Because we’re in the middle of a power outage!”

Jacob was returning with his family from Haran after many years of separation from his brother Esau. “Jacob feared greatly, and it caused him pain. (Gen. 32:8)” It was Esau’s plot to kill him that drove Jacob to Haran originally, so on his return Jacob still feared for his life. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki zt”l) writes that Jacob was not afraid of Esau. Rather, he feared his own sins. As an intensely spiritual and G-d fearing man, Jacob had faith that G-d could save him from the hands of his brother. Esau’s might wasn’t what he feared, and his own ability to defend himself and his family were of no concern to him. He would be responsible and prepare himself for any confrontation. All of those “cables” would be connected. Instead, Jacob took a spiritual accounting of his relationship with G-d to see whether the connection to the real source of all his power, his safety, and his life, was intact.

When faced with any challenge it is natural and responsible to pursue all physical means to face the challenge. We must always make our best effort. All our efforts, however, do not address the source of our strength. The light of success does not shine when the Ultimate Power is out! (Based on Daas Chachmah U’Mussar, HaRav Yeruchem Levovitz ztl)


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