Monday, October 31, 2016

Birthday Reflections

After 45 years on the planet what have I learned?

Baruch Hashem, LOTTTSSSS of things. Had I known 25 and 30 years ago what I know today, I would have saved myself some terrible mistakes. I have learned a tremendous amount about human nature in general and about particular individuals. People are complex. The same person has many often contradictory streams running through his personality. I have been coming to terms with the fact that the type of ideal person described by sifrei mussar rarely if ever exists. There are far too many good and bad middos for a person to excel at all of them. Some people are great a learning but weaker in chesed. Some are great at some types of chesed but shy away from others. Some are great to their community but not so sweet at home to their family. Most people feel a certain emptiness that they feel they must fill with constant involvement in their iphones. [I once to complained to a mechanech in a prominent position about the excessive use of iphones among students. I then saw that he is also addicted. Even during a shiur it is on and he is forever stopping to answer yet another email or the like]. Some people are really careful about what goes INTO their mouths but not what comes out. What they call in Modern Hebrew הכלה - the ability to really be there for another person is all too rare [that is why people are willing to pay 250 dollars an hour for a listening sympathetic ear. The secret is that they don't know what is going on in the mind of the person they are paying. If they cared that much then they would also do it for free if they could. Would they? I am not always so sure....].

All in all, people aren't bad or good. They are generally both. It is just a matter of percentages. Our job is to constantly increase the good in ourselves and others as much as possible. It is important to know this so that we are not disappointed when people aren't there for us. They often just have too many of there own things with which they are dealing. The notion that we are in this world primarily to make it a better place for all is not necessarily the primary focus of most people. Getting up in the morning and saying [after Modeh Ani] that today I am going to spread light and simcha in the world and specifically with anyone I interact with is not also the mindset of every Jew - although it should be. 

I think a central lesson of my life is that even if one keeps every detail of the Shulchan Aruch, if he [or she] is not self aware then they are really missing the point and are far away from closeness with Hashem. Self awareness means not only that I learn Torah but question my motives in learning. Is it about me and my accomplishments and rewards or about clinging to Divine Wisdom for no ulterior motives? Am I the spouse I am supposed to be? Is the relationship a business partnership where each side fulfills their part of the deal but doesn't truly love and care about the other or is one really dedicated to the well being of the other? What type of parent am I? What mistakes have I been making? How can I improve? What am I doing right? How do I spend my money? How do I spend my time? Am I too lax with my time? Time, after all, is a valuable commodity. Once it goes, it never comes back. THOUSANDS of questions we should be asking ourselves in order to scrutinize our spiritual and emotional level. 

The unexamined life, we are taught, is not worth living. 

After 4 and a half decades on earth [for which I thank Hashem TREMENDOUSLY], I share with the world the following suggestion: Let us examine our lives and make them more worthwhile!!

Bi-ahava rabba,
Me 珞