Cut My Life Into Pieces

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How can Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits shlita be in the same article as Papa Roach?

I’ve decided that imperfection is the great equalizer for humanity. Not one of us is perfect. So it is. If you cut my life into pieces, you’d see disjointed roles, relationships, and goals. I’m teaching, mothering, trying to build up two personal work projects, support my husband with his schooling and a small business plan of his own. The common thread that ties these pieces together is that I’m one person with the same strengths, weaknesses, dreams, challenges, values and temptations. When I begin to feel overwhelmed by my responsibilities, I remind myself of the message my husband’s rebbe, Rabbi Berkovits, lives and teaches over and over and over…

Are you ready for the message?

This is the big secret your kiruv (Jewish outreach) rabbi isn’t telling you.

😉

We’re all here to attain greatness. Slowly, brick by brick, we are here to become great people. Dignified, honest, disciplined, generous individuals creating happy, refined families and developing thriving, vibrant Jewish communities. In that order.

When I attended Rabbi Berkovits’ classes in Israel every week during my husband’s fellowship at the Jerusalem Kollel, the lesson never changed. Somehow, though, it sounded different, taking on the shape of the area we discussed. How does one prepare for each holiday physically and spiritually? What constitutes dignified speech, behavior, and appearance for Jewish leaders? What does it mean to be a truly GREAT person as defined by the Torah (given all our limitations and weaknesses)?

From the age of 13 when I got my Alanis Morisette audio cassette, I realized on some level that we enjoy wallowing in our feelings. We’re all fortunate enough to be incredibly self-indulgent and just sink into the pit of anger, depression, frustration, or disappointment we carve out for ourselves. It’s interesting that seniors and teenagers have the highest incidence of depression. Do you know there are more deaths from suicide than homicide each year? We statistically hate ourselves more than anyone else. Or we just hate our lives. Isn’t that the same thing?

Let’s not get super heavy. Suffice it to say, the Torah outlook on what drives us to get up each day and live our lives no matter who, what, where, or when is the universal obligation to recreate ourselves each day into our absolute best selves.

Papa Roach, allow me fulfill your wish: You’re fine. This article is named after a song that glorifies toying with suicide; I’d like to propose a different interpretation. “Cut my life into pieces.” Break down our lives, every moment spent, every dollar, every exchange.  “This is my last resort.” We have to be determined. It’s life or death. We’re either zombies, just surviving, looking forward to the next nap, movie, drug, distraction, or escape of choice. Or we’re living. Relishing and cherishing the effort we make to improve ourselves, the attempts, the falls, the fails, the fruits of our labor. These are the real joys and the point of life.

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