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Authentic Self Worth

Sunday, 15 March, 2020 - 9:00 pm

Rabbi Yisroel and I have both been enjoying a great book titled: “Its Within You” by Rabbi Aryeh Weinstein and Ilene S. Cohen (I highly recommend this book).

One excerpt from the book that really struck a chord in me was the account of a Jewish American serviceman who participated in the liberation of one of the concentration camps during the last days of World War ll. He recounted how before their platoon entered the camp, they were briefed by their commanding officer: “What you’re about to see is like nothing you have ever seen before. You must know, these people haven’t eaten anything but scraps and morsels for years. As much as you may want to load them up with food.. you must not”. Their systems cannot tolerate it. They could actually painfully die from it. Only the experienced food experts would know how to slowly nourish them back to health.

As the soldiers entered the camps, the prisoners looked upon them as if they’d been sent from heaven. Then a child of skin and bones, barely alive, came up to this one particular soldier and begged him for food. The man’s heart began to break. A starving dying Jewish child was in desperate need right in front of him, and he couldn’t pull out the food that was in his pack. He turned to the child and in his broken American Yiddish, told him: “I don’t have any food I can give you. But I know what I can give you. I can give you a hug”.

The soldier recounts: “ I lifted this emaciated child and put my arms around him, and he put his bony arms around me. Tears began flowing down my cheeks. And then an incredible thing happened. Dozens of these children, barely alive, began flocking towards me, asking if they too could have a hug from this strong and proud Jewish liberator. They were standing there; not for a chocolate bar, not for a piece of bread, but just for a hug. ..And then even adults came over. ..We silently hugged and cried together”.

Having experienced the unfathomable atrocities of the War, these precious souls needed to be reminded of their inherent G-d given worth and value. A value that no one and nothing, could ever rob them of.

This story got me thinking. We all have a fundamental need to feel worthy, that we have value, and that we are acceptable and lovable exactly as we are. I began to think about the often subtle and subconscious ways in which our society has trained us to acquire self worth. We often don’t even realize how we turn to the praise and approval of others to help affirm our sense of worth. A boss’s feedback, the response of our audience after giving a presentation, even checking to see how many likes or comments we received on a Facebook post.

And then there’s the Torah approach. As Rabbi Weinstein so eloquently frames it in his book: “..developing a deep understanding that within us lies a unique purpose that we were put on this earth for, and that with every breath we take, G-d is reminding us of this purpose and assuring us that we matter. Whether we get applauded or not, and whether we’ve even begun fulfilling our purpose, our inherent value remains the same”.

The world is hungry for this message. Let’s begin radiating this soul perspective on self worth.

 

Exercise for this Week: (Time: 2 minutes each morning). Practicing Authentic Self Worth

Each morning before we begin the daily rush of activities, let’s say the Modeh Ani prayer. Many of you say it already. I have been saying it from the day I could talk. But let’s infuse a new meditation into this fundamental prayer, said immediately upon awakening.

First, the Hebrew words and translation: (See recording below of me saying the prayer, slowly, word by word. You can hit play on this message each morning and repeat the words after me.)

Hebrew:
.מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים, שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה; רבה אמונתך

Transliteration:
Modeh Ani L’fanecha
Melech Chai V’kayam
Shehechezarta Bi Nishmati B'chemla
Raba Emunatecha

Translation:
I offer thanks to You,
living and eternal King,
for You have mercifully restored my soul within me;
Your faith (in me) is great.

 

And now a short meditation I composed. Feel free to compose your own (And if you feel comfortable, share it with all of us too! :)

 

Dear G-d,

I awoke this morning

I am breathing. I am alive.

With each breath I take, I hear You whispering:

“You are my precious G-dly soul, sent to Earth anew each day.

To elevate

To refine

To do a Mitzvah

“Raba Emunatecha”- “I have tremendous faith in YOU”, says G-d.

Yes, G-d has tremendous faith in ME.

He sees into the light of my soul

Sees the mission that He entrusted me with

One that my soul, only my soul can accomplish.

With each Mitzvah I do, I radiate a holy light into the world around me.

I connect with the Infinite, with the Shechina itself.

And no one can ever take that away from me.

My value is essential; inherent to who I am at my Core.

As I breathe my first breaths of this new day.

I breathe IN the faith that G-d has in me

And breathe OUT the faith I have in Him.

Now G-d, I will contemplate a Mitzvah, a baby step of a Mitzvah,

That I can take upon myself

To fulfill this mission of the soul you breathed back into me today

For that is my true value

That is my real worth.

Thank you dear G-d

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