As a young soldier in the Israeli Mechanized infantry, I once took part in a rather large training exercise involving hundreds of soldiers. My unit’s task was to secure the high ground which dominated the battlefield. This high ground was already “held” by a mock enemy bunker. The safest way to assault this position was via a barely-negotiable, very steep, thorn bush-covered slope. We agonizingly inched our way up the slope, grabbing on to bushes or on to each other’s belts, or anything else which would afford us some aid in or climb. About half way up the slope I observed a very curious phenomenon. Each one of us, myself included, began to jettison unnecessary baggage. While holding on to our comrades’ belts, or a bush with one hand, the guys were using the other hand to open their packs and throw out cans of soda, candy bars etc., in order to lighten the load. I myself threw out a kilo of my wife’s cookies. As painful as this was, I’m convinced that many of us would not have reached the top had we jettisoned this unnecessary baggage.
Rabbi Pesach Krohn provides insight into this event. King David asks in Tehillim 24; מי יעלה בהר ה' נקי כפיס ובר לבב “Who may ascend the mountain of Hashem? He answers נקי כפים ובר לבב“only One with clean hands and a pure heart.” Who will succeed in being an Eved Hashem? Only those who jettison the unnecessary baggage. Only those and improve themselves to the extent that they are free of those things that impede their tasks. Our world offers things that both accelerate and impede our jobs as Orthodox Jews. We must listen to the good advice of our Rabbeim and our parents in order to decide what to retain and what to jettison.