Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.Winston Churchill
It seems like an opening replete with sin.
The snake sins as he seduces the inhabitants of Eden. Adam and Eve defy G-d’s commandment and they sin as they eat from the forbidden tree. Cain sins as he murders his own brother, Abel. And eventually, the entire human experience on earth fails, as we succumb to our worse inclinations: jealousy, promiscuity, thievery, and more.
But is that a fitting introduction to such a saintly book as the Torah? Why can’t the pages of G-d’s book open up with a smile?
The answer is telling. And it shares an invaluable lesson for life:
By opening His Torah with so many flops, G-d was teaching each of us that failure is an inevitable part of life. In the words of King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 7:20): “There is no righteous man who never sins.” Yet, the big question of life is not whether we fail, or if we sin; the big question is if we can find the courage and strength to rise up after we fall.
Unfortunately, many people fall again and again, after experiencing failure. Why? Because falls breed despair. Despair then damages a person’s self-esteem gravely. And a damaged self-esteem, in which a person ceases to believe in himself, brings about more and more falls.
But the founders of humanity acted differently. Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit, and they immediately began to raise a family. Cain commits one of the worse sins ever. But he then immediately repents, marries, begets a child, and builds a city, naming it after his son, Chanoch. The human experience fails, and a devastating flood emerges. But then, the surviving family of Noach plants a vineyard, and rebuilds the world.
No; Adam and Eve, Cain, and Noach and his family, did not lock themselves in their bedroom for endless days after experiencing failure. They did not drink themselves to oblivion, nor did they fall into a state of debilitating depression. Instead, they went out and made a difference. They understood that they could never undo their past. In fact, they would actively repent for the rest of their life; but that didn’t stop any of them from doing the right thing. Because they understood, what Winston Churchill proclaimed a few millennia after them that, “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”
The lesson for all of us is vital: the reaction to destruction must be construction. The best answer to evil must be goodness. The only response to darkness must be light. And as long as the soul still resides in the body, and as long as the breath of G-d replenishes our lives at every moment, one must make a positive difference in this world, without loss of enthusiasm, and with more light, more love, and more peace.