First of all, I would like to apologize for the lack of a Shabbos message last week. I actually wrote one (all about new year’s resolutions) but there was some kind of malfunctioning of my email account and it got shut down and did not send the email. I hope to make up for it this week!
Judaism is not all or nothing. We are not judged by where we reach on the ladder; we are recognized by how hard we tried to climb. Unfortunately, sometimes we are hesitant to even try to grow or make changes. We feel like there is no point in starting, if we are never going to reach our goal anyway. How many times have we given up on something without even trying, simply because we are so discouraged that it is too hard and we are probably not going to get there anyway?
Our self-talk is often negative when it comes to change. I know I should exercise more, but why should I bother if I won’t be able to keep it up. I want to be careful about my diet, but I have no self-control when food is in front of me. I know I should be more careful not to talk about other people, but it is such a struggle for me, I am just not going to be able to stick to it. I feel a spiritual void in my life, and I know that going to a class at Aish will help fill it, but I’m so bad at committing to things, it won’t last long anyway. And so on and so forth.
The question is how to motivate ourselves to start something that has a strong possibility of never getting accomplished. An answer, of course, can be found in this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Sh’mos. You all know the story of baby Moses (Moshe) in the basket. Pharaoh decreed that all Jewish baby boys be drowned in the Nile. Yocheved, Moshe’s mom, was able to hide her newborn for 3 months after he was born because he was premature. But once she reached her original due date she knew the Egyptian authorities were going to come around looking to see what she gave birth to, and she had to come up with a plan. She designed a waterproof basket, placed her baby inside, and sent her daughter, Miriam, to float the basket on the Nile. Miriam then hid in the bushes and watched to see what would happen to her baby brother.
Pharaoh had a daughter named Bisya. That same morning, as HP would have it, Bisya decided to take a bath in the Nile. Suddenly, she heard the sound of a baby crying, and realized the sound was coming from a basket floating way down the Nile. The Torah tells us that she then stretched out her arm to grab the basket with the crying baby in it. The Midrash shares an amazing thing with us about this story. Apparently, the basket with Moshe in it was floating too far away for Bisya to possibly reach. But she tried to grab it anyway, and a miracle happened and her arm stretched and she was able to reach the basket. And the rest, as they say, is (Jewish) history.
Bisya teaches us how to motivate ourselves to do something we know we probably will not accomplish. Try anyway, because that’s all G-d wants from us. And if we sincerely try, He will help us reach our goal. Even if what we want is literally impossible for us to get, the only thing expected of us is to make the effort. One never knows when a miracle will happen.
I shared one of my favorite quotes at Coffee Schmooze yesterday: “Don’t give up before the miracles happen.” Sometimes, we give up before we even start. But miracles are waiting for us around every corner, and if we push ourselves a little, we may bump right into them.
Have a wonderful, miraculous Shabbos,
PS Join us at the following events for fun and inspiration!
Saturday, January 6 – Happy Birthday Jo Gerstein!!! (See, I put you on my calendar:)
This Sunday – Simcha Dancing and Salad Bar @ Aish! Come at 3 pm to learn some fun simcha dances with a professional instructor. Enjoy a fun and healthy activity! $10 suggested donation
Monday, January 8 – “Let’s talk Torah” – conference call class from the comfort of your couch. Topic: The Woman of Valor. 8:30 pm
Wednesday, January 24 – Coffee Schmooze! 9 am @ Starbucks on Craig and Olive
Friday, January 26 – Shabbos Dinner @ Ucity Shul. Join my family and the Greenwalds and see what everyone has been raving about. Delicious food, plenty of wine, and the best company! Email Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot.