Supply Lines

Friday, 15 May, 2020 - 6:20 am


Last week, the world noted the victory of the Allies over Germany in the Second World War 75 years ago.

Many things led to this victory, and the main thing that is usually stressed is the staunchness of Soviet and British citizens, soldiers and leaders. Indeed, these people faced a well-developed, organized, uninhibited war machine and stood up to it heroically.

But there was something else, there – something very significant that stopped the German conquest – and that was the issue of supplies. Germany had hundreds of thousands of soldiers stationed thousands of kilometers from Berlin, and had to keep them well supplied with an unbelievable amount of equipment such as clothes, food and fuel, without which an army cannot continue to exist. The more they conquered and the further they were from their land, the harder it was to get these supplies to them.

The Allies, on their part, invested great efforts in interfering with the supply lines to the front – on land, in air and at sea.

Germany lost the battle in Stalingrad, among other reasons because Russia cut off the supply lines to the front, which was two thousand kilometers from Berlin, and Field-Marshal Rommel was stopped at the gates of the Holy Land, among other reasons because the U.S. and Britain managed to cut off the long supply lines needed in order to feed the soldiers and the tanks.

It is not for nothing that there were huge battles around large ports such as Tobruk in Lybia.

We are supposed to learn from history. Military experts learn the stories of campaigns in order to improve their own campaigns and become more efficient. And every human being can – and should – learn from history how to improve his handling of the world and make it more efficient.

I am assuming that everyone is advancing all the time, whether in business or in public service, studies or personal, emotional and internal growth. All of us, at one time or another, conquer (or at least wish to move forward and conquer) various aims in life, and here one should stop and examine the state of our supply lines: To what extent do I know what I have already accomplished? Sometimes it is worthwhile to pause for a moment in order to maintain what one has already, before storming the next goalpost.

What is the problem? The problem is that it is not exciting to maintain and examine what we have already achieved; it’s much more exciting and stimulating to move on.

Here is a simple example. I was learning Gemara with my son, the aim being the study of a certain number of pages. We advanced very quickly, but then we stopped for a moment and examined the “supply lines” – did we still know well what we had already learned? Did we still remember how we got there? So we stopped and checked and discovered that there was work to be done. What we learned had not yet been well absorbed, and we realized we must review the material. The review was slower, and sometimes more difficult, but it is clear that without it our so-called accomplishments would have been worthless.

So it is, as well, in public service and business activities. The chances of a fast-growing business to survive long-term are not so great. It is necessary to stop and examine, strengthen, maintain and thicken those supply lines leading to the front.

So it is too when it comes to emotional and personal growth and advancement. A person who has invested in correcting his character traits, in strengthening his emunah (faith), in acquiring good traits etc., will roam around in Hashem’s world feeling great joy and happiness, but if he doesn’t stop every once in a while to examine and maintain what he has already achieved, he probably won’t hold on long-term. 

Do I have to add that the same is true for diets, or is the principle clear?


Shabbat Shalom to all,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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