0 Posted by - January 14, 2016 - Parsha, Shemot


Parashat Vaera

A few weeks ago, I coached a yeshiva student who was in somewhat of an identity crisis. He decided that he wanted to be what he called “a Halacha Jew”. He wanted to keep halacha down to the smallest detail. The problem was that this boy was very far from the goal he was aiming for, which caused him great confusion. As he started learning halacha after halacha, he saw that he was not anywhere near where he wanted to be; he wasn’t ready for all that change in life, and he wanted to give up. He felt, somewhat, an identity crisis. “If I can’t be a Halacha Jew, than I will be a Jew that doesn’t keep halacha. I might as well give up now, before I get more confused.”

We reexamined and redefined what a Halacha Jew actually is. “A Halacha Jew is a Jew that decided that everything he does is going to be in accordance with halacha. He will do the best he can to live his life according to halacha from his present level, or to improve his situation, constantly trying to reach a greater degree of observance.”

The reason why most people do not change in life, even after they realize the value of the goal that they have set for themselves, is because they have not made a firm decision. It is not because they are “not ready for change”. People who change, change now, today, not tomorrow, even if they are not ready. It is the ability to decide that makes a difference; the decision to change, and that decision needs to be made immediately after they are fully aware of the value in the change. How, though, is a different story. But when people do not change, the reason they give is usually, “I was not ready for the change. You need to be ready, in order to change.” People who wait until they are ready, never get ready. The people who are able to change have a different order of putting things together. The fact that they are not ready is just in the temporary reality of the moment; but in their mind, in their identity, in their belief system, the change has already been made. It is just a matter of time, until the change in the person is actually put into action. Every day, they do what they can to put their planned changes into effect; they try to get closer to making the change a reality. This is something we can learn from our Parasha, and from R’ Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l.

R’ Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l, adopted this self-help tool in spirituality. He lived for Kavod Shamayim, Kiddush Hashem and Torah learning in quality and quantity to a maximum degree. He knew that his greatest strength was that G-d was behind him. “Of course, I cannot carry out all of my plans for the future Mir. My greatest advantage is that I realize I can’t possibly do everything I would like to do. Other people fool themselves into thinking that they can do whatever they want. I am in the hands of Ribbono Shel Olam, and I can only try my best.”

R’ Nosson Tzvi would explain. At the beginning of the Parasha, even before Moshe and Aharon actually followed G-d’s directive to go to Pharaoh, the passuk says, Moshe and Aharon did as Hashem commanded them: so they did (Shemot 7;6). How could the Torah state, in present tense, that they did what G-d commanded them to do, even before they had done it?

We see from here that when you resolve to do something- even if it is beyond your natural capabilities, G-d considers that you have already done it. But, I believe that R’ Nosson Tzvi had another secret. He did not just plan. He planned on paper. He told others to plan their life goals, their spiritual goals, and their learning goals on paper. In February 2003, USA Today reported a study of people who had made New Year’s Resolutions the year before. Out of the people who had not made their resolutions in writing, only 4% had followed through. But, of those people who had written down their resolutions, fully 46% had carried them out. This is a difference in success rates of more than 1100%!

I believe that the greatest human feat, the greatest change, that was performed in the Torah was taking the Jews out of Egypt. How did Moshe do it? He didn’t. G-d did. That is why Moshe’s name is not mentioned in the Haggadah on Passover. But still, Moshe went through the motions, being the perfect, ultimate messenger of G-d.

לא עליך המלאכה לגמור ולא אתה בן חורין להבטל ממנה The job is not up to you to complete. And you are not free to ignore your responsibility to do what needs to be done, to make the job happen. (Avot 2 16)


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