0 Posted by - March 17, 2016 - Parsha, Vayikra


Parashat Vayikra


My ultimate life coach is the Ramchal. He begins Messilat Yesharim talking about goals, about habits, about awareness, about growing step by step, etc. And the way he starts the ultimate coaching of all time is with his famous words. יסוד החסידות ושורש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו בעולמו. “It is the basic obligation of every Jew to clarify and internalize the reality of his purpose in this world”. “What are you doing here?” “Why were you created?” “Who are you?” The most basic questions of life are, indeed, the most trying ones.

כי אם החרש תחרישי בעת הזאת For if you remain silent at this time..(Esther 4, 14) Mordechai put pressure on Esther to beg Achashverosh, on her own behalf and on behalf of her nation. Esther was on board with Mordechai’s request, but she responded that entering to speak to Achashverosh without an invitation could cost her her life. She had not been summoned for thirty days, now. The decree was not for another 11 months, for the letters that were written, signed and sent, had the doom date of the 13th of Adar. It was, at that time, only the 13th of Nissan. But, Mordechai insisted. “Esther, NOW or never!” Why the rush, Mordechai? This is the Malbim’s question.

As a matter of fact, Esther needed not one, but three miracles for her to approach King Achashverosh at such short notice. Three angels came to save her. One angel raised the eyes of Achashverosh, one painted grace on Esther’s face, and the third angel made the King’s staff stretch from 2 Amot to 60 Amot! (Megillah 15 b) The Talmud teaches us not to rely on miracles (Shabbat 32a). So, why was Mordechai so demanding?

The answer the Malbim gives is a lesson for everyone. He lays down three principles. Here is the first. When something out of the ordinary happens in life, this is an act of G-d, calling for some Divine Intervention. Esther, a righteous, modest woman, getting married to the lowly, wicked, gentile king Achashverosh, was part of G-d’s plan. After Haman’s decree, things started falling into place, making sense of how and why Esther was in this position. This was a sign that she was to be the messenger of G-d to save His People. The second principle is that G-d does not need Esther, or any other person to save His People. If a person who is in the position to save does not seize the opportunity, whenever it comes, G-d chooses a different path to salvation, for He will never forsake His People. And the third principle is, when you are a means to an end, when your whole purpose is for some other goal, once the goal is accomplished, your existence has become meaningless. Esther was obviously in her position not for the sake of being queen, but for the sake of salvation for G-d’s Children. If Esther would slack off, now, G-d might just find some other messenger to do the job, and that would be the end of Esther. Mordechai told Esther, your time has come. You are here for a mission, and if you wait, G-d will find someone else, and you will be lost, forever and ever.

Every man wonders what his personal mission in this world is. The way to find this out is to learn who you are. To see what you enjoy doing, what you are good at, what makes you feel alive, and what G-d wants from you, from where you are, right now, in your life. R Moshe Feinstein learns that this is what the Torah means, when it says “See: I appointed Betzalel to be the one to build the Mishkan.” What did G-d mean when He said “See”? How were the people able to see that Betzalel was the appointed builder of the Mishkan? The answer is because Betzalel was good at it (Shemot 35; 30. 32-34) . G-d sends you messages in life. When things are weird, when things don’t make sense, that is how G-d wants things to be, for some reason, and that is where He wants You to be, for some reason.

Some of the biggest mistakes in life are the result of your not working from where you are, and from who you are. Now, today, is your opportunity for success. Ask yourself, constantly, the following questions: What can I, and only I, do, today, that if done well, will make a real difference? What is the most valuable use of my time, right now? Success in life almost always boils down to self-discipline. Self-discipline means doing what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not. Every time you practice self-discipline, your self-esteem goes up. You like and respect yourself even more. This is the secret of serenity.

Mordechai needed to get involved in royal affairs after Haman’s execution, so he could not keep up his previous high level of learning. Mordechai was thus downgraded from his being the 5th greatest rabbi of the nation, to being no. 6 . The Talmud deduces from here (Megillah 16b) that Torah learning is greater than saving lives. Why did Mordechai give up a portion of his learning time, if this meant that his greatness was diminished? Because that was the position in which he found himself in life. He recognized that this was the spiritual mission that G-d had assigned to him. For only he could do it. And, it needed to be done now. Otherwise, Mordechai would not have taken out time from his learning.

One of the prayers that shake me to the core on the High Holidays is אלוקי! עד שלא נוצרתי איני כדאי ועכשיו שנוצרתי כאילו לא נוצרתי! “My G-d! Before I was created I was unworthy, and now that I have been created, it is if I had not been created!” Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook explains. All of our souls were created at the very beginning of time. They were not ready to be brought to the world, until our time has come. For 6000 years, your soul waited, ever so patiently, for the moment to go on stage. Hence, “before I was created, I was unworthy”. After 6000 years of patience, I am pushed into this World, and I forget my script. My mission. My purpose. “It is as if I was not created.”

Be aware of your background and your position. Learn it. Make the best of it. Make the best of you. And I will leave you with a little poem, from Dr. Seuss. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

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