As we approach Rosh HaShana, I would like to share with you a shiur I once heard from Rav Lazer Brody shlita, student of Rav Shalom Arush shlita, disciple of Rabbi Nahman miBreslev alav haShalom.
I want to introduce you to a concept I call FEELosophy; the effects of our thoughts and philosophies on our feelings and the reciprocal. Rabbi Brody explained to us that if you take the same letters in the word בשמחה, which means ‘with happiness’, they also spell the word מחשבה, ‘thought’. How we think is how we feel, our very emotions are lodged in our thought. To FEEL happy, we must THINK happy. This lends us strong insight on how to acquire happiness but also on how to attain the proper mindset to carry us throughout life. The harmony of our feelings with our thoughts is the very faculty that will allow us to actualize our potential. You should be surprised to know that human beings use only about ten percent of their full potential. Even within the brightest and most diligent individuals, ninety percent of their potential lays dormant. This is a scary thought. Just imagine what the world would be like if people woke up and actually used one hundred percent of the potential they were endowed with! Mamash it would be the difference between heaven and earth. The question begs to be asked; WELL, HOW DO WE REACH OUR FULL POTENTIAL? Think about how different this past year would have went had we been equipped with the secret behind this question.
Rabbi Nahman and his followers not only stress Emunah in HaKadosh Barukh Hu (Garden of Emunah, read it!) but they also emphasize Emunah in the SELF! Only when one has faith in their own abilities can they use this as a point of departure for growth. Self doubt will only serve as an impediment to any potential growth in an individual. If you want others to believe in you, if you want HaKadosh Barukh Hu to believe in you, the first and fundamental step is to believe in yourself. If you truly want something, nothing should ever stop you from getting it. This means do not conform. Once you conform to another’s standards, you are also taking upon yourself the limits they have set for themselves (whether or not intentionally). Be and accept yourself. How do you know the lengths you could reach? Maybe you can reach even farther places than anybody before you has! Just don’t ever let anybody set a bar for what you can reach instead of you. Even if they set it high, who says you cannot reach higher?? Set your own standards.
Always look at the things you have accomplished and move on from there, do not dwell on what you think you ‘failed’. Concentrate on your positive attributes and thrive from this, do not let what you think you are lacking to bring you down. Every person was created as a complete ‘package’. They are given the specific tools they need to fulfill their mission. HaShem makes it possible. Realizing and internalizing this cuts out any jealously we may feel towards others. We are each given our own job to accomplish in this world. If we waste our time worrying and wanting what another has, will we ever fulfill our own job? Will we ever reach our full potential? Jealousy only causes one to remain stagnant and chas veShalom even to regress. We still stand in the same place we started except now, we are also consumed with ill feelings as well. My friends, each one of us has our own talents and abilities that nobody else has. Something that comes naturally to you may be something that another person has strived their entire lives to attain. Nobody ever has ‘everything’; they don’t need it. Would it help a carpenter to have the most technologically advanced dentistry tools in his tool box? Absolutely not. What would he ever need them for? Did you ever think, maybe you don’t need the wealth your neighbor has or the beauty your friend was gifted with. Maybe your smile is your most personal and powerful tool in the box. Use that to its maximum capacity and use it well. If we are always trying to be somebody else, then WHEN ARE WE GOING TO BE ABLE TO BE OURSELVES? Not only will we not be successful at being ourselves but we won’t become the other person either, we are not given their tools! You would just be stuck between two incomplete people. In attempting to be another person, we will not be successful at being either one. Be good at what you are, excel in your own dominion, For the moment you give up the essence of who you are, you will forget who you used to be. And when you need very much so to access your inner self, to recall facilities entitled to only you, you will find that as much as you search, as loud as you scream, you will never find what you call for; you simply left nobody there inside to listen
A quote by Albert Einstein beautifully captures this idea. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” It is your job to realize what your tafkid is. Do you need to swim to get there or to climb? You decide.
Now that you understand that you have your OWN specific job with you own personalized set of facilities to accomplish this job, hone in on your tools and talents and develop them. Infuse them with heart and passion and just go for it! Be the best person YOU were destined to be! The only person that can be the best version of yourself is you. I thank Judy Garland for the quote (yes I realize she is a goya but hey, that was her mission in life): ‘Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.’ And that is exactly what we must do this year.
Rav Brody explained to us, during his experience in the army, as soon as a mission was given, it was completed before it even began. In their minds, the end goal of the mission was a set reality, they just had to decide how they will get there. A building was determined to be destroyed as part of the mission. Even before then strapped their boots on and loaded their guns, this building was theoretically destroyed; there was no uncertainty whatsoever that it would not be. Now, they only had to decide on the most effective way to accomplish this mission. Would they walk or would they fly? Would they need to swim to get there or would they climb?
As soon as you get a mission order, it is already completed. Just, how will you implement it? Set your goal, then approach it. Think about what you want to be then direct yourself to there. You must complete your mission, there is no turning back; we can only move forward here. Think to yourself of where you want to be in five years from now and then GO GET IT. Don’t just let the five years go by and then observe what you’ve settled into. Define and decide what you want your reality to be and then just actualize it, with your goal always in mind. This will lend you much direction in life. An archer can stand all day shooting arrows at a given field. He can shoot a thousand finely crafted arrows at a target but as long as he fails to hit the ‘bullseye’, even if he was successful at making a geometrically perfect circle around it, he has not completed his task. Don’t just drift into the general direction of where you think you will be comfortable in life; you have not accomplished anything this way. Hit the target. Make the mark.
It is now that we stand at the beginning of the year that we must decide what and where we want to be at the year’s end. As we stand at this end, we peer all the way to the other end and what is it we see? What are our goals we hope to accomplish? Who do we strive to be? This requires us to know who we are now and involves deep introspection. As Rosh HaShana arrives, answer these questions to yourself honestly. Make the resolution NOW for who you wish to be LATER. Once all the guesswork is done, all that is left is to get up and actually do it. Identify your capabilities so that you can achieve them. Don’t ever forget that HaKadosh Barukh Hu loves you unconditionally and is here to guide us through every step of the way. We are not alone.
I daven that beSiyata diShemaya every single one of us should be zokhe to maximize and to reach our full potential in life. May we appreciate all the gifts that HaShem blessed us with as tools to improve ourselves and the world around us and in this zekhut may we pass all our nissayonot with ease and meaning. May we be given the clarity and the koah to pursue our tafkid in life and to be successful at doing so. May each of life’s experiences bring us and those around us only closer to HaKadosh Barukh Hu. May each moment, day, and year be better than the one before and may they be filled with unconditional happiness and love. May our years be blessed with an abundance of health, happiness, prosperity, inner peace, clarity, patience, love, and understanding, strength and inspiration. May we all share in so many of each other’s Ssemahot this year and every year to come. May it be a year of spiritual growth and closeness to HaShem Yitbarakh. May we be written and signed in Sefer haHayim favorably. May we always make HaKadosh Barukh Hu, our Father, proud of us, His children. May we all live lives of purpose and of substance. May we all be zokhe to do a Teshuva Shelema before HaShem Yitbarakh and in this merit to bring Mashiah Bimeherah Beyamenu and to rebuild our Home in Yerushalayim bekarov, Amen!
Wishing everybody a beautiful upcoming year! Shana Tova!