During a recent session at Kadimah, we spoke about the challenges of objectively viewing the world or the people around us. I presented a scenario to the participants. I asked them to envision themselves walking down the street and seeing themselves as their friend (in my case, Avroham). I then prompted them to consider what they would say to motivate, problem-solve, or validate their friend if they were struggling. In my scenario, Avroham struggled to connect with Hashem because of societal pressure and his high expectations. I was there for him and encouraged him, reminding him of his progress and suggesting that he focus on finding a genuine connection to specific mitzvos. I reminded him that to succeed, he needs to ignore any external pressures or expectations that may hinder his journey.
In this week’s Parsha, we read about the journey of the Jewish people through the desert. This experience is relatable because, similar to us, the Jewish people faced challenges and uncertainties. Their experiences offered me a valuable lesson in our modern lives. Just like the Jewish people had to rely on their faith through the desert, we, too, can find strength in our beliefs and values to navigate difficult times. This doesn't necessarily have to be religious faith; it could be faith in ourselves or the support of loved ones. Trusting in something greater than ourselves can motivate us to keep moving forward, even when the path seems uncertain.
Many of the participants blew me away with their responses. It taught me that I can look at myself objectively with a supportive role, even in the most challenging moments when I know I didn't meet my expectations. While we go through this life journey, I hope you, too, can gain something from thinking about yourself or the world around you a bit differently. Instead of being your own harshest critic, be your own best friend! Join me this week as I try and develop a plan to take on a mitzvah, not just to do the mitzvah, but to live the mitzvah in a genuine way. By doing that, we can take one step closer to transforming the world!
All the best
Avroham Yehudah Ross