Word of Wisdom: Is it Me or Is it Luck?
by Kamy Eliassi
מזל – MaZaL
Perhaps one of the most common excuses that have been uttered since the beginning of human history has been: “I got unlucky” or “It’s not my fault it was bad luck”.
But what is Luck? How can we define it and/or put a measurement on it? To what extent, does it have an impact on us and our lives?
In our conventional thinking and every day lingo, luck is generally accepted as “good fortune which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result”. To compare our present understanding and perspective on “Luck”, we would like to take a deeper look at Hebrew and its ancient linguistical insights for clues as to the meaning, purpose, and effect of luck.
Ironically however, to our surprise, Luck does not really have a Hebrew counterpart that has the same meaning. This language does not seem to fully acknowledge that luck in that sense of the word really exists. Instead it uses another word to account for what would be considered influences on our lives which stem beyond our control.
That word is MaZaL (מזל) and its closest etymological connection is related to the stars and constellations. What do stars and constellations have to do with Luck? Well that is a deep idea that we don’t really want to get into right now. But, something else is conveyed by this word that marvelously puts the right perspective on it.
According to the early Sages of Hebrew, MaZaL was actually the acronym and combination of Makom (מקום which translates as a Place/Location), Zeman (זמן which translates as Time) and Limmud (לימוד which translates as “Learning”). So basically luck is a function of Time, Place, and Learning. Well, we all know that time and place have a huge impact on us and that their impact is many times beyond our control.
For example, none of us can change where we were born, to whom we were born, or what era and time we were born. Those matters are out of control and they are what in effect have influences on us beyond our will and intention.
But what is Learning? What does that have to do with anything and why is it a function of the MaZaL sequence? And in this lies the greatest lesson in life. Learning is entirely up to our control. What we learn, how much we learn, and how we learn is ENTIRELY in our hands. And in that very fact lies the great insight of Hebrew.
Although we DON’T control many things effecting our time and place, WE CAN Control our learning which will give us the power to get the best out of our TIME and LOCATION and to maneuver through them to our best advantage. After all, no matter how bad or good of a Poker hand you are dealt, how you play with it is entirely up to you. You can take a pair of aces and run it to the ground or with savvy and focus play an off suite subpar hand and win with it.
The moral lesson for us folks is that although there are many life elements that are simply beyond us and entirely outside of our realm of control, we are in effect still fully in control because WE CONTROL the main component of “Luck” which is learning and knowledge. And, it is this Learning which also ultimately gives you the power to change your location and deal with your time constraints. In effect, one becomes almost fully in control of his own “Luck”.
When we accept the principal that something beyond our control has definitive influence on us, we are more likely to use it as the scapegoat for our problems and the barrier to future growth. However, when one fully realizes that the final OUTCOME is entirely in your hand because the LEARNING component of “Luck” has been handed over to us, then we can take comfort in knowing that “I got lucky” should really be changed to “I am lucky”.