0 Posted by - September 14, 2016 - Devarim, Parsha


Parashat Ki Tetzeh

The Ben Sorer Umoreh is the child we know who went astray from his parents, and went astray from the ways of the Torah. We all know that the word sorer means to go astray. But what does the word moreh mean? Rashi and the Targum explain this word as rebellious. But usually, that word means teaching. What did this rebellious child teach? And to whom?

The Yalkut Gershuni writes that this boy is not only a bad kid. He gets others to join him in crime, so that he won’t burn in hell alone. He teaches others his Torah, as he teaches himself his own Torah. For a person to become a sinner, he needs to create his own Torah. He needs to make his own New Testament, to justify his inappropriate behavior. Even Eichman justified his behavior, saying that he was just following orders.

The more I coach, the more I realize that everyone has their own story. I realized that productivity and performance are closely connected to the 3 S’s. State, Structure, and Story. Our State of Mind, will have a powerful effect on our performance and productivity, in any given situation. The Structure that we are in has an equal effect on our performance and productivity. But the most powerful effect on performance and productivity is the Story. How did you get into this area of productivity or performance? Why are you there? When did you start and when will you end? Who are you up against, and who is on your side? Where is this story taking place?… Most of the time, the client is not even aware of all the parts of his own story, until he gets into some sort of bottleneck between his motivation and his goal.

Studies have proven that story telling is an extremely potent form of persuasion and motivation. Stories set your brand. Stories build your identity. And people sometimes give up everything they have, because they cannot give up on their version of the story. Even G-d wrote the Torah in story fashion, because that is the way the human mind connects with concepts. When one spouse calls me for help with Shalom Bayit, I know that the only way I can help them is if I can listen to both stories, find the contradiction between the two stories, and figure out how they can both buy into a third story. When I help a yeshiva student with his conflicts in religious observance, it is usually not the religion that he wants to be coached on. It is about his personal story in the religion, his story with his relationship with G-d. “What is your story?” is a powerful question. Everyone has a story, a perspective on their place in the family, how much they deserve, and how much they were mistreated.

The Ben Sorer Umoreh could not have become such bad kid, if he did not have a story. When a religious teenager takes off his yarmulke, he is not just taking off a piece of clothing. He has a long story that is behind it. The Ben Sorer Umoreh has a story; he has a belief that this world is where it all begins and ends. And that the easy life is the good life. And he teaches others his story, to make himself feel that there is credibility to his story, that he does not stand alone.

We start off the Selihot saying, לך ×”’ הצדקה ולנו בושת הפנים To You G-d, is Righteousness, and all we have is shame. The difference between a sinner and one who sinned is that the sinner has a story of self-justification, while the one who sinned realizes his wrongdoing. This is the beginning of Selihot, because the first part of repentance is to alter our story. And this is what we mean in the beginning Piyut of Yom Kippur , לך א-לי , when we say with a tear on our cheek, ובחלתי בתורתך- ובחרתי בתורתי. And I was repelled by Your Torah, and I chose my own Torah.

When we do Teshuva, when we change from our sinful ways, we are ridding ourselves of our story and buying into G-d’s story. Our story is that we are Orthodox Jews, so we are okay. Relative to the place from which I started out, I have come quite far in my religious observance. But G-d has a different story. His story was, is, and will always be, the Torah, Shas, and Shulchan Aruch. It does not make a difference how digital or crazy the world becomes; Obama, Clinton, or Trump: G-d does not change His Story. His story is an old one, starting from before Creation, freeing us from slavery, keeping us alive through the exile, and giving us all an ultimatum; to choose which world is of higher importance, this world or the next. His Story is the story of our accepting his Kingship over us and the Universe, even if it is a digital Universe. And His story is always the real story, while our story is just digital. Just as fast as you created it, you can delete it.

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