The following is inspired from Rabbi Avi Rabin’s talk at the last Chabad Mensch Night.One only needs to take a look back at history to realize how much of a challenge it is to be the “Chosen People.” Slaves in Egypt, the Spanish Inquisition, pogroms and of course, the Holocaust. The fact that we are still here is a remarkable miracle, but when one looks at what was lost in the Holocaust, nothing may be more devastating than the loss of G-d. There were many people who came out with their lives, but in addition to losing their families, their homes and possessions… they lost G-d… lost a huge part of themselves.
Being a Jew is not easy.
G-d explains that we will be small in number and often gone after. One need to watch the news and open the paper to see that anti-Semitism is alive and well. From Charlottesville to Europe to the UN, Jews are still hated and reviled. Who would choose that?
Being a Jew is not easy.
So why are we here? Why are we sticking around? Being chosen does not mean being better… but it does mean being different and being a Jew is not easy…But Judaism is beautiful. The Torah is not just a blueprint for life, but a blueprint for a happy life. It teaches us how to behave, how to act and how to be fulfilled. And sometimes, there is an amazing lesson in sadness.
One of my favorite take aways from the night was the following:
Being unhappy is an opportunity. It’s your soul knocking at the door and telling you it is not whole, not fulfilled… and it is a message to get you to fulfill your soul and make it whole.
As I look in the mirror, unhappy with the wrinkles and rolls, I realize that the “extra weight we carry,” both literal and metaphorical, is not me. It is not us. And just like losing weight, we can lose our “heavy feelings.” And how do we do this? By connecting to Hashem, connecting to a higher power… by realizing that was have an amazing purpose in this life.
Judaism is a guide for the soul, and for this reason, if for nothing else, it is beautiful. Is this easy? Heck, no. Getting rid of sadness and living a happy and fulfilled life is the goal, but It is not easy and certainly not easy to maintain day in and day out… There always seems to be something to challenge us and pull us off the path… IF WE LET IT… but we know it is right… we know it is the best path forward if we are to live happy and fulfilled lives. The stronger our connection to G-d, to Hashem, the easier it will be to weather the storm, the literal and metaphorical storm.It is no coincidence that at the same time this lesson came to me, I discovered Louise Hay’s “Mirror Work.” I firmly believe that Hashem gives us exactly what we need to teach us and learn from, and that it is not always limited to things that are technically “Jewish.” While almost every lesson I have discovered can be found in Judaism, it seems, and there are so many parallels and connections… I am open to things that will keep me growing and moving forward. Especially if I believe that everything… EVERY THING is created by G-d.
While the idea of losing weight, both in my gut and in my soul, came about from a talk at Chabad, and really put things into an amazing perspective, the way I may go about it (Whole 30, Intermittent Fasting, Paleo, etc.) is not “Jewish,” per se. We have to find what specifically works for us, realizing that the inspiration, the steps, the path, etc, comes to us from Hashem, because He WANTS us to succeed and be happy. This connection is key to that.
With Mirror Work, the basic idea is to look at yourself in the mirror, first thing in the morning… and throughout the day… right in the eye… and learn to not judge yourself… learn to not criticize yourself… and learn to truly love yourself. It is awkward and maybe even a bit corny, and some might dismiss it as “new agey,” but there is something to it… something beautiful. And the main part of that beauty, is us. We are beautiful, each and every one of us.We start our morning by thanking Hashem for returning our soul to us… so why not also look at ourselves in the mirror, really look at ourselves and SEE ourselves, and connect to our own soul through our own eyes and recognize that Hashem is in us, all of us, and we are beautiful. The weight and burden and sadness we carry is not us, so let it go, push it off, lose it.
“Happy are they that are upright in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are they that keep His testimonies, that seek Him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119)
Is it easy? No, it is not… But no matter where we are, and for every step along the way… we are… and it is beautiful.