Inspired to be a hero?

Friday, 1 March, 2024 - 4:46 am

By the Grace of G-d Dear Friend, In this week’s Torah Parsha we read about the Jews worshipping the golden calf and G-d’s suggestion to Moses that He wipe out the current people of Israel and make a fresh start. Hashem proposed that He would rebuild a new Jewish nation from Moses’ offspring. Moshe’s reaction was unequivocally decisive. Moses told G-d ‘And now if You would forgive their sin (all is well) — but if not, erase me now from this book that You have written.' This constituted the ultimate sacrifice by a leader who’s entire being was about Torah. Nothing was more important to Moshe than the Torah. Nevertheless, when his flock was facing a serious danger, he put himself and his own wellbeing on the side, in order to save his people. A truly selfless act! Indeed, Moshe is described as being the humblest man on the face of the earth. We are living in times when heroism is tragically very prevalent. So many of brothers and sisters in Israel, army, first responders, medics and civilians have given their lives as heroes. A friend has shared a fund he is involved in to help the families of the heroes and when you watch the video it’s heartbreaking. Every hero that has fallen affects all of those loved ones around them. At the same time, it is deeply inspiring and empowering to recognize that selfless sacrifice is not embedded in history and books, but it is alive and well within people of flesh and blood like us. Often it leads to the feeling that if one’s time on earth is up one would hope to pass on in a selfless heroic way in the service of others. This kind of death is called ‘Kiddush Hashem’ sanctification of G-d’s name. Those who pass away for being Jewish, for standing up for G-d and His people are called ‘kedoshim’ ‘holy’. We are privileged to be hosting scores of living ‘holy’ heroes at our Chabad Houses throughout Thailand. The stories that these chayalim of the IDF are sharing depict valiantly heroic bravery and unlimited commitment to protecting and saving our people. Meeting heroes brings one to contemplate their own life from that prism. How can I be a hero is what comes to mind. I would like to address a different form of selflessness. One that it is within reach of each of us. A few years ago, I busy working in my office at Chabad House near Kaosarn Rd when one of the rabbinic interns called me to tell me that there was a young lady who was in tears and asking to see the Rabbi. I interrupted what I was doing and met with the distraught young lady. Rebecca told me that she had just gotten tragic news via her email. One of her friends from college in the USA had been found dead, apparently it was suicide. For the better of an hour Rebecca poured out her heart and expressed emotions that ranged from pity for the loneliness her friend Joe must have felt to do such a terrible thing, to anger at the selfishness of inflicting this kind of pain to the circle of family and friends who will grieve him. Rebecca was no stranger to the tragedy of self-inflicted death as her grandfather had done the same thing. Rebecca’s very own mother had not known her father who had taken his own life when she was but a young girl of three. There was not all that much I could add to the conversation through words. Most of my contribution was my empathetic silence which I find to be the most important in these kinds of conversations. The strong message that I heard from this young lady was the fact that taking one’s life was simply something that was selfish. She was well positioned to make that observation. Her mother had grown up fatherless as a result of such an act. ‘Didn’t Joe know how much I and all of his other friends cared for him’ Rebecca kept asking in anguish. I tried to steer Rebecca more towards feelings of pity for the young man. He was obviously in great pain, and we should view his act as a moment of ‘temporary insanity’ (indeed Rebecca confirmed that he did have a history of emotional illness). Here is the ‘counterintuitive’ message I would like to share. Inspired to be a hero? Sometimes the most humble, selfless and noble thing you can do is simply to be the best ‘you’ that you can possibly be. It may not seem glorious or heroic to fulfil the responsibilities you have to those around you and to G-d, but that is exactly why it is so honorable and holy. You may be the only person who can fulfill the role, even if you feel like escaping from it. Don’t run away from yourself. Embrace your mission. Believe it or not, we are happiest when we do what we are meant to do. Our lives become most fulfilled not when we spend inordinate amounts of time figuring out what makes us happy but rather when we step up to doing that which we are needed for. And each and every one is needed. Every single creation of G-d has a task. Here is the basic meditation to battle feelings of worthlessness if they come to bother you.. It is quite simple. Tell yourself: ‘G-d created me, and He doesn’t create anything in vain. He doesn’t create ‘spare parts’. My job is to concentrate on doing the next right thing that deep down I know I should be doing. Sometimes it’s not exciting to fill the roles G-d has given you in life. Sadly, it may sometimes even be excruciating. But ultimately, doing what is right (absolute right is defined according to the instructions of G-d in his Torah) is the only way to be truly and authentically living up to G-d’s intention for you in His world. And there is a great benefit to following this path. Fulfilling your life-tasks is the ‘long short path’ that brings with it the most happiness both for the person himself as well as for all his loved ones. The heroes who have fallen in the line of defending and caring for the Jewish people in our times and throughout our long and event-laden history, deserve our admiration and gratitude. They also implore us, that we turn this inspiration into positive action. As King Solomon taught (Kohelet 7, 2) ‘the living shall take to heart’. Our lives should be lived more ‘heroically’ and ‘selflessly’ one deed at a time. For some people, going to work and faithfully bringing home a paycheck to care for their family is tedious and uninspiring. But it is selfless because their loved ones are fed, clothed, and housed. Doing a mitzvah even when you don’t feel like it. Helping a person in need when they irk you. For a person who feels G-d forbid like they are not interested in being alive, their heroism is even more basic. Simply by not doing anything self-destructive and by breathing, eating and drinking they are heroes in their selfless determination to keep going. Choosing life is a G-dly choice. Staying true to your values even when severely challenged, is selfless and heroic. On the other hand, surrendering ones moral values in the face of confrontation is cowardly. Let us be inspired by Moshe, the Macabbees, our soldiers and all of our glorious heroes throughout our history who have stood up for truth, faith, community and all of the moral values taught to us by Hashem in His Torah. This period of adversity, is our moment to be a golden link in the chain of Jewish history. Let us recognize the opportunity we have. Let us stand together, proud of our role to be ambassadors of light, moral clarity and holiness to the world. Click here to see thousands of Jewish teens in NY’s Times Square last week in show of positive and optimistic Jewish pride. And here for their ‘count on me’ event. Minute by minute, mitzvah by mitzvah, choice by choice, keep choosing right over wrong, light over darkness, good over evil LIFE OVER the opposite of life. These steps are not earth shattering, they are eminently achievable, and if we do them consistently they will break through the darkness and pain of our current state and usher in a world of peace, holiness, goodness and kindness. MASHIACH NOW! Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Yosef Kantor
Comments on: Inspired to be a hero?
There are no comments.