0 Posted by - July 15, 2016 - Bamidbar, Parsha


Parashat Balak

I was asked by a Rosh Yeshiva to coach a certain student who was disobeying Yeshiva’s rules. I asked the Rosh Yeshiva what his goal was in regard to the boy, what were his expectations from being in this relationship? His response was that all he wanted was to make sure that this student will have gained Yirat Shamayim (Fear of Heaven) by the time he left Yeshiva. I told him, that’s nice. I asked him how he intends to accomplish that. He thought and thought. And then, he held my arm and said, “Yosef, I am going to shake him up. I will shake him up until he has Yirat Shamayim”.

I did not ask him what he meant, and, until today, I still have no idea what his intention was. When I coached the boy, I asked him if he knew how to translate the words ‘Yirat Shamayim’. I was shocked to learn that the boy had no idea! (After that, I asked many 18-year-old yeshiva students to translate the words ‘Yirat Shamayim’, but too many of them did not even know what the expression meant) I asked him to try and guess what the translation could be, and he said, maybe it means ‘seeing Heaven’? It seems that he confused the Hebrew words יראה with ראה.

This week, though, I was blown away. I read in Alei Shur, by R’ Wolbe, that the whole concept of Yirat Shamayim, fear of Heaven, is linked to the word ‘seeing’. How do you fear G-d? By seeing outside yourself. Focusing on G-d’s creations, G-d’s way and all of G-d’s works, and being amazed by them leads a person to Yirat Shamayim. By learning His Words. It is a lifelong battle, focusing on G-d instead of focusing on ourselves. Yirat Shamayim is all about awareness. Allow me to explain.

One of my biggest mistakes as a rookie coach was to try and help people to change. People do not need help to change. All they need is awareness, and then, they change on their own. The job of the coach is strictly to help the client achieve awareness. That’s it. Awareness of his goals, awareness of his options, awareness of what is stopping him from achieving his goals. Once I try and help the client, I am out of my zone as a coach. And I am only hurting the coaching relationship. The coaching business is the awareness business.

Why is awareness so important? The answer is simple but profound. You are what you notice. You are what you think about. You are what you focus on.

In this week’s Parasha, Bilaam said to the angel of G-d, “I sinned, because I did not know that you were standing opposite me on the road…” The Sefer Chassidim writes that a person is judged and punished for what he does not know, because he did not pay attention to know. Bilaam confessed the sin that “he did not know”. The Peleh Yoetz writes that someone who does not take out time to learn, and does not listen to classes, אין רגע בלי פגע ואין פסיעה בלי פשיעה. There is not a minute without doing evil, and there is not a step without a sin. Probably because beneath the “I didn’t know, I was not aware”, is “I did not really want to know, I did not really want to be aware.”

My Rabbi once told me something that shook me to the core. “I am not worried about the punishment I will get in the afterlife for the sins that I know I did in my lifetime, as much as I am worried about the punishment for the sins that I am not even aware of.” Hence, the Chafetz Chaim says that the first accounting we need to deal with in Heaven, after 120, is why we lived without an accounting. Most ‘mess-ups’ in life, are due to a lack of awareness. “I just wasn’t thinking”; “I did not realize.” “I was spaced out”. “I had no idea that it was forbidden.” The worst things are said by people who are not aware of what they are saying. The worst emotional abuse is the result of lack of awareness. Always, your first line of defense in emotional abuse is, “Are you aware that what you just said is….?” Because lack of awareness is the most common of causes.

The most crucial intelligence you need in life is your emotional intelligence. And that is all emotional intelligence is: Awareness.

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