The Mayanot girls were lucky enough on Sept. 28th to have Rabbi Shmuley Boteach join us for breakfast and Chassidus in the sukkah. If you’ve never heard of “America’s Rabbi”, he has authored several books including the best-seller Kosher Sex and he is also the host of the TV show “Shalom in the Home” on TLC. He is a world-famous lecturer / life coach on all subjects having to do with getting over the broken relationships of your life, whether with yourself, your parents, your spouse, your children, or G-d. He also happens to be one of the most compelling speakers I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.
Last week Rabbi Boteach stopped by with his wife and daughters to take a look at the school. His daughter is joining us here as of tomorrow, so they got the full tour. Afterwards he sat down and said a “quick 30 second thought” for about 30 minutes having to do with the root of all fears… the fear of being insignificant. It really hit home for a lot of us, and it’s true. Every true fear (not talking about phobias of spiders, etc.) that we have in life has to do with the fear of being insignificant. The fear of death, the fear of being alone, the fear of being poor; all of them stem from the insecurity generated by the fear of being insignificant.
The result of this fear is that we spend our entire lives trying to do something to prove our significance to the world. We work hard for good grades so that we can get into the best college to get the best degree to make the most money so that we can “be someone” in the financial world. We sacrifice our family lives in order to work extra hours for that promotion so that we can “be someone” in the company. We give up our own needs and wants to fulfill the needs and wants of others so that we can “be someone” that the people around us want us to be. We spend so much time doing things that we never actually get to just BE ourselves.
Something incredible happened when Rabbi Boteach was telling us all of this… a revelation of sorts about why I’m here. I worked in high school to get good grades and good SAT scores so that I could get a scholarship to go to college. I went to college on this prestigious scholarship and worked hard to get good internships. I held countless leadership positions in countless extracurricular activities to boost my resume. I worked my butt off to get a great job when I graduated so that I could do something with my life.
The time came to graduate, and the job offer that I worked so hard to get came my way. And I turned it down.
People called me crazy. My family worried that I did so much to get to where I was and then I just let the offer sit there; they worried I would never use my degree. My friends couldn’t believe that I was turning down the kind of opportunity that we had all had our eyes set on for the last five years of our lives… longer, 18 years of education! But I said “no thanks, I’m going to Israel.”
Maybe I’m crazy.
Or maybe I’m tired of doing, doing, doing.
So I bought a one way ticket to the other side of the world, to a place where I don’t have to DO anything. Here, I can just BE. I can be myself, I can return to my essential soul, to my natural state of existence. Yes, I’m still learning. Yes, I’m still “doing” things. But the reasons for my actions have changed entirely, because for once I’m not trying to do something in order to do something else in order to get something that society sees as a quintessential part of being significant. Instead, I just get to live.
I think that for the first time, I’ve finally realized what it means to be free.