0 Posted by - December 31, 2015 - Parsha, Shemot


Parashat Shemot


One of the secrets of motivation is hidden in this week’s Midrash.

וירא בסבלותם And Moshe saw their burden. What did he see? R’ Elazar the son of R’ Yossi said, He saw a small load on the big Jew, and he saw a big load on the small Jew. A man’s burden on a woman, and the woman’s, on a man. The load of an elder on a youth, and the load of the youth on the elder. Moshe put aside his royalty, and he got permission from Pharaoh to put on each one the burden that was appropriate for each individual Jew. He presented it as if he were helping Pharaoh, for he claimed to Pharaoh that the slaves would die prematurely if each one continued to carry the other’s load. (Shemot Rabbah 1; 27) The Midrash continues: G-d then told Moshe, You left your position and you went to see the pain of the Jews; you cared for them as brothers do. I, too, will leave the upper worlds and the lower worlds, and I will speak to you. This is what it means in the Passuk, at the thorn bush, וירא ×”’ ×›×™ סר לראות  And G-d saw that Moshe veered away from his path to see. In other words, the Holy One, Blessed be He, saw that Moshe left whatever he was busy with to observe the burdens of the Jews. Therefore, ויקרא אליו אלקים מתוך הסנה G-d called to Moshe from within the thorn bush.)

Why did Pharaoh distribute the burdens so inequitably? He would get far greater productivity if he let each one do what was appropriate for him! And why, out of all the hardships of Egyptian slavery – the long hours, the impossible conditions – was it this particular aspect of their suffering that Moshe singled out to focus on? Why did the Torah choose to call this particular detail, the unfair and illogical distribution of loads, “their burden”, and why was Moshe so greatly rewarded for bringing it to Pharaoh’s attention?

Pharaoh knew what Dr. Seuss knew. “Today, you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” A person who works in something that he identifies with, in something he enjoys, can work endless hours and not feel like a slave. Pharaoh wanted to break the Jews; he wanted to make them slaves, to deprive them of any feeling of self. How can someone break you? By not letting you be you. The greatest load you can carry in life, the greatest slavery, is to be someone you are not. To spend the most precious thing you have, time, the essence of your life, doing what you do not really want to do, being who you do not really want to be, is, in essence, real slavery.

As I write this article, I am finishing up putting together a course on the secrets of motivation. How to motivate yourself, and how to motivate others. One of the most important secrets of motivated people, of motivation, is identity. Doing what you do because you want to do it, because you are being you.

You see, the whole world is full of people who work 9 to 5. And the world is full of people who work for their money, not for themselves. They need the check at the end of the month, and that is what motivates them. So they come into work, out of fear that if they do not, they will not be able to pay the heating bill, the electric bill, the phone bill or whatever. In most cases, the employee’s life can be defined as such: he works just hard enough not to get fired, and the employer pays him just enough that he won’t quit. This type of work is motivated by fear, not by identity, and it is only a matter of time until burn-out kicks in.

There are people out there, not that many, who work for their own sake, because they love what they do. The successful pizza guy loves making pizza, giving people the food they want at the speed they want it. He loves what he does so much he would do it for free, but he just needs to make money to continue doing what he loves doing – giving more good pizza to more people. The successful barber gives haircuts, because he loves talking to people while he cuts their hair and loves seeing the customer glance in the mirror appreciatively, as the he pays and walks out, feeling that he looks more presentable than he did when he came in. Those people have found their identity. They would work for free, but they need money to keep doing what they are doing. If the drive is money, if that is the sole motivator and there is no drive to do what is being done for its own sake, the customer can feel it. He can taste it in the pizza. This is the way G-d programmed human beings, each one with his own interest, profession and nature. (Berachot 43b) G-d, out of his mercy for mankind, created garbage men, plumbers, etc. He made these people with that identity, so that they could enjoy what they do, and we won’t have sanitary problems. Even though, for most people, such jobs would be torture, these people have it in them from G-d, to actually enjoy their “profession”. This is an incredible concept.

מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים שהחזרת בי נשמתי I am thankful, before You, Ever-living King, that You returned me my Neshama, with great compassion… We all have a different, unique soul, a different and unique identity. And we thank G-d for making me, exactly who He made me.

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