Taken from Aish.com
You shall not recognize the gods of others in my presence. (Deut. 5:7)
“In the olden days idol worship was an issue. Every human being had an urge that he desperately needed to bow down to an idol. Today that is not the case. To the contrary, we view bowing down to sticks and stones as foolish. How are the Torah’s numerous warnings against idol worship relevant today?
Idol worship began with Enosh, the grandson of Adam. Enosh believed in God; after all his grandfather was created by God Himself! However, the people of his generation were awestruck by the stars and galaxies and felt that they should honor the heavenly bodies as God’s emissaries to the world, just as it is proper to honor the ministers of a king. They did so with the wholehearted intention of fulfilling God’s will. However, they also sought to manipulate the heavenly bodies to serve themselves – and they knew the secrets that enabled them to do so. While it is true that idols were unable to function independently of God – for they received their power from Him – they were able to accomplish things that people wanted them to accomplish. If God made a drought the idol worshippers were able to manipulate nature and cause it to rain.
What is evil about idol worship is that the purpose of creation is to get closer to God through self-perfection. Manipulating systems that involve no growth is defeating the purpose of creation. God makes a drought since he wants you to improve yourself and make a connection with Him.
When God gives us a challenge, sending an obstacle our way, we might search for a quick fix. However, what God wants is that we improve ourselves. Use that pain, that challenge, as a vehicle to advance in your spirituality. Seeking the easy way out is a form of idolatry. It’s defeating the purpose of creation. When an obstacle comes your way you need to ask: “Do I look at challenges as an annoying inconvenience or as an opportunity for growth?”
“The pleasure one has from mastery over desires is greater than the pleasure of one who seeks to gratify all his desires. The latter will only attain one in a thousand of what he seeks and will be constantly frustrated. But a person who is master over his desires experiences great joy. Such a person has a double advantage over the hedonist. The hedonist will feel he is lacking a lot and suffers because of this. Moreover, he does not enjoy what he already has. His suffering due to what he is lacking does not allow him to feel joy with what he has.
On the other hand, the person who has mastered the art of not desiring what he is missing feels happy even though he might lack many things. Such a person is surrounded on all sides with happiness. He is happy with what he has already obtained in the past and he feels good about the future. Since he does not worry about the future, he constantly feels good.”
by Adam Lieberman
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses tells the Jewish people of additional details of events that occurred since they left Egypt. He goes into the disastrous episode of agreeing to let spies go into the Land of Israel, and says that initially:”The idea was good in my eyes…” (Deuteronomy 1:23)
A LIFE LESSON
The mission of the spies was clearly one of the most devastating events in Jewish history. It was the very act that caused the Jews to wander in the desert for 40 years and resulted in many of them never being able to enter the Land of Israel.
Even though the spies’ mission was so catastrophic, Moses still had the courage to say “the idea was good in my eyes.”
How many times have you seen people back-track on something they said if events prove their position wrong? It seems that when people say something and then it doesn’t work out as well as they or others had hoped, they’ll quickly re-write history by changing the words they said, the ideas they vividly expressed, or views they had just passionately given. But Moses, being the great person and leader that he was, said to everyone that “the idea was good in my eyes.”
This is rarely how leaders or people act today. All too often, heads of corporations, governments, or households back away from their previous words if the results turn out differently than they had believed. This isn’t leadership. Leadership is about being honest and having the trust of those who believe in and follow you. Do these leaders really believe that people have that short a memory? The answer is: they really don’t care.
They don’t care because the real reason why people choose to re-write history is because of their own lack of self-esteem. Like most people, they don’t want to look foolish – and they believe that admitting they made a mistake makes them look foolish. It doesn’t. Ironically, it shows you to be a man or woman of conviction who isn’t afraid to stand up when you make a mistake. Doing this isn’t a knock to your self-esteem; in fact it’s actually a huge boost to it. This is because taking responsibility will always make you feel great. Not doing so makes you a fraud.
The higher our self-esteem, they more readily we will be to admit our mistakes made because we don’t see poor decisions as a reflection of our own self-worth. We hold ourselves in high self-esteem and know that any mistake we make can never damage that. Since people always learn and grow from their mistakes, we can actually GAIN self-esteem if we err because we know it will only make us BETTER people in the end.
People with low esteem, however, fear how people view them if they admit to making a mistake. So instead of owning up to it, like politicians, they chose to re-create the events of the past to be viewed in the best possible light. But again, ironically, your self-image actually gets stronger when you admit you made a mistake.
So, the next time you do or say something that turns out to be the wrong position to have taken, make a statement about who you are. Boldly announce that while initially “the idea was good in my eyes,” based upon new information you now see things differently. You will not only gain the credibility, trust, and admiration of others, but you will also gain enormous self-esteem in the process.
A man is lost in the woods, and has been walking aimlessly for days. No matter how hard he tries he cannot find his way back home. Suddenly, a lightning bolt bursts across the sky and lights up the night. In that single flash, the entire forest is lit up and he is able to see the road. The vision was momentary, but it was enough. He is no longer lost. It may take him days to travel, but he knows the way.
Sometimes, at certain points in our lives, events occur that give us a different clarity of vision. We recognize how great our mission is, how fleeting life is, and how little time we have left on this world. At that moment, we understand things from a very clear perspective. That is the moment to make life decisions. Lock in that clarity and use it to guide your life’s course. Even though things may become clouded again, at least you’ll know that you’re headed in the right direction. It may take time to arrive there, but at least you know the way!
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Apparently this was Gloria Vanderbilt’s favorite piece of advice. Not what I expected but that’s the point, isn’t it? Even the seemingly privileged, the wealthy, the talented, are not exempt from life’s challenges. Everyone is fighting a great battle.
Because that is the whole point of life and the battle is for life itself. The battleground occurs in our psyche, in the struggle between the base and the holy, the negative inclination and the positive one, the body and the soul. Continue reading
“I want to die”
“Life is so painful, everything is a mess and I can’t take it. I just wish I was dead!”
That was me.
I’ve probably screamed that phrase at the top of my lungs at least 200 times in my life.
I had a really hard time growing up.
It’s why I left home at seventeen.
Why I dropped out of high school and followed the Grateful Dead around North America.
Why I moved out to the Islands of British Columbia and lived on a sailboat.
I was running.
Running from the pain. Continue reading