The Sephardic Heritage Museum Explores THE LIFE AND ESCAPE of the JEWS OF SYRIA

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“CHARM SPRAY”

By: Rabbi David Ashear

We live in a very competitive world. At times there are one hundred people vying for the same position, and one hundred companies trying to sell the same product. And so we become apprehensive. We see so many people who seem to be better than us against whom we need to compete, and other products that are better than ours whose companies are fighting for the market. A medical student sits in class with dozens of other aspiring doctors, and he thinks to himself, They’re smarter than I am.
I don't have a chance!

We need to repeatedly remind ourselves that we know the One Who made other people smart, and He can just as easily make us smart. There are no boundaries in life. Everything is available to everyone. All we have to do is speak to the only One Who truly matters.

Even if the product one is trying to sell is clearly inferior to others, it could still generate sales. Sometimes companies who have had limited success will suddenly find that a product starts selling like crazy, everyone wants it, and the company cannot even keep up with the demand, causing the price to skyrocket. A man I know sold children's costume wigs and made a nice living. In 2007, there was a craze for Hanna Montana, and so this fellow took the same wig he had been selling for many years and put a Hanna Montana label on it. Millions of his wigs sold. In 1996, there was an Elmo doll selling for $28.99 apiece until there was a sudden demand, and the price rose by hundreds of dollars. There were even reports of that doll selling for $1500 apiece. The same thing happened in 2006.

Why does this happen? How could a product suddenly become popular?

In a shmuz, Rabbi Moshe Malka said that Hashem has a special "spray," so to speak, which we might call "charm spray." When He decides a product should sell, He "sprays" it, and suddenly everyone wants it. Hashem can give products a certain "charm" that makes them popular, and He can also give people a certain charm. A person could be less qualified than others for a certain job but yet be hired because Hashem gives himchein – charm – in the employer's eyes. Hazal teach us (Bereisheet Rabbah 39: 13) that Esther was 75 years old at the time Achashverosh chose her over all the other maidens in his kingdom, from Hodu until Kush, to be his queen. And the Gemara (Megillah 13a) says that she had a greenish complexion and refused to wear cosmetics or perfumes. She was chosen, the Gemara (ibid.) explains, because "Hashem granted her a certain charm," and this was all she needed. Similarly, when Yosef HaTzaddik was thrown into jail, Hashem gave him chein in the eyes of the prison warden (Bereisheet 39:21) – "And he was appointed the one in charge of the prison."

How does a person earn this special "charm"? We have to recognize that Hashem is the only One Who counts, and not become sidetracked by our impressions. It appears as though the people with whom we deal are the ones who control our fate, and we therefore enslave ourselves to them, trying to please them and earn their favor. But the truth is that our fate depends only on Gd. The Chovot HaLevavot (end of Shaar HaBitachon) writes that the more directly a certain cause appears to affect us, the less powerful that cause actually is, and the more indirect the cause appears, the more powerful it actually is. For example, when a police officer issues a ticket, his decision and actions are the direct cause of the ticket. But the truth is that he does not have the power to make you pay for that ticket. He is under the authority of the sergeant, who is himself under the authority of the lieutenant, who is under the authority of the police chief, who is under the authority of the mayor. The higher up one is in this hierarchy, the less directly he was involved in the ticket, but the greater his authority to determine whether you are responsible for that ticket. Similarly, the people we deal with in our lives are not the ones with the authority and control. Let us not be fooled. Everyone is under the authority of Gd and answers to Him. And the more we recognize this, the more blessings we will enjoy.

Adapted from “Living Emunah,” by Rabbi David Ashear,
with permission of the copyright holders, ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.