In the summer of 1960, the Rebbe shared this Baal Shem Tov story with camp children:
One time, a wagon got stuck in the mud, and the non-Jewish wagon-driver poked his head into the Baal Shem Tov’s synagogue, asking his disciples for help to pull the wagon out. The disciples replied: “We’re sorry, but we aren’t strong enough to lift it.” The wagon-driver replied: “You can, but you don’t want to.” The Baal Shem Tov later explained the man’s words as a fundamental lesson: Don’t convince yourself that you aren’t strong enough. G-d grants the strength to achieve all good things – and if you truly want it, you will succeed.
This is an important story. Often we feel that things are out of reach or beyond our control, we feel our hands are tied or our resources and abilities too limited, and we are unable to make a
difference. But the wagon driver was right. Not always, but very often, it is a choice. If we’re interested, if we care enough, if we really want to – we can. Our abilities often depend on our level of interest and commitment and dedication.
Saying I can’t is often true on some level, but if you think about it you might realize that it might be a little dishonest. If you really wanted to do it, you could! So, it is all about choice.