My iPod was stolen from my car a few weeks ago. This iPod was loaded with every available recorded word of the Rebbe. Yesterday, I mentioned to a friend that I was bereft of my iPod and spending a lot of time bored on airplanes because of my loss. In a touching act of kindness, he gave me one that he had in his office, also loaded up with the Rebbe's talks. This morning, I heard the Rebbe recount the following story:

A newly married young man was ready to travel to S. Petersburg, the "big city," in pursuit of a livelihood. He faced two problems, however: a) He didn't have any money. b) He wasn't fluent in Russian. He approached the fourth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (1834-1882, known as the Rebbe Maharash), for advice.

"Both these factors are to your benefit," explained the Maharash, after hearing the young man's concerns. "If you'd speak Russian, you'd be limited to your communicative abilities. Better let others speak for you and don't be limited by your language skills. Additionally, if you borrow money before you go, you'd be limited to however much money you borrowed. Better find a deal first and then create the financing to suit the deal."

The Rebbe continued: In the Russian train system, there were various classes. In a light-hearted vein one can say that only a poor man travels first class. The wealthy man goes second class because he tries to conserve his hard-earned resources. But the poor man anyways has to borrow to pay for his trip. Once he is borrowing, he borrows enough to travel first class!

There is no doubt that the Rebbe was not advocating frivolous borrowing without a repayment plan. But he was advocating having a plan that has a broad and far-reaching vision along with a sound strategy that finds solutions to challenges, even if those solutions are not traditional.

We are deep in the month of Elul, the month that precedes Rosh Hashanah. During this month, G‑d Almighty makes Himself available to us like a king who is in the field en route to the palace. So long as he is in the field anyone can approach about anything.

Let us all make a plan for the New Year that has a broad vision for bettering ourselves. Let's reinvent ourselves to the point where prior challenges do not exist. Let's go out of the box!