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A Journey Built on Social Anxiety - Bo

It might surprise you, but despite writing to hundreds of people every week, I struggle with social anxiety. I overthink every possible conversation and event, causing stress that often leaves me silent, overwhelmed, or overstimulated. Surprisingly, I love people. Interacting with them can be stressful but rewarding in the right situations. That's why I find comfort in pouring my heart out to complete strangers each week—especially since these conversations are not face-to-face.

Recently, I found myself at an event, feeling anxious with nowhere to run or hide. I realized that I must stay, face the challenge, and remain strong to become more tolerant of these situations. Pushing through the fear, I had two conversations. They were short, but I felt successful. I didn't run or hide; I faced my fears and completed the mission!

In this week's parsha, Bo, we read "Come to Pharaoh." The Rebbe asks in Likkutie Sichos why it says "come to Pharaoh" when Hashem obliterated the Egyptians and Pharaoh in this parsha. The answer is that people often try to add good to destroy the bad. The Rebbe explains that when Hashem said, "Come to Pharaoh," it was for Moshe to seek out the evil within his home and eradicate or transform it.

While learning Tanya with my friend Akiva, we reached the tenth perek. We learned the differences between a righteous person who knows evil and a pure Tzadik. The Alter Rebbe states that a pure Tzadik transforms all the evil of the animal soul into good. Someone who hasn't completely eradicated and converted the evil within is termed "an imperfect tzaddik" because they "know (i.e., possess some vestige of) evil."

Initially, I thought this wasn't relatable. Perfection is far from attainable, and even the bit of imperfection referenced doesn't seem like my situation. But then I reread it, and one part caught my eye—the idea of transforming evil into good, when it says "go to Pharaoh" is relatable to my situation. I could have left the event at the slightest bit of struggle, but instead, I stayed. I used my anxiety to talk about the effects of coffee, how we were similar, and how we were different. I stayed and transformed my experience.

The world can be a scary place. I can tell you firsthand that there are situations where I didn't stay or push through; instead, I ran. However, to grow and make actual change, we need to fight back against the evil forces. That's the only way to make a difference. Hopefully, this week, you will join me, take something you are struggling with, dig deep down, and try to overcome it. You got this!

Good Shabbos

All The Best

Avroham Y Ross

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