Friday, October 4, 2013

Spiritual Egotism

Based on my facebook newsfeed and Pinterest page over the past few days, it seems there may be a shortage of food coloring in the stores next week. Rainbow cakes, cookies, challah, and salads have taken over the internet and shabbos tables for parshas Noach.

I apologize to the people in my home for my lack of creativity and cuteness, but I am not making anything rainbow or animal related this week, as I´m still traumatized from the 20 meals I hadda cook on sukkos. Oh, wait. Tomorrow´s cholent has been sponsored by a cow. Does that count?

Noach and Avraham were both the spiritual leaders of their generations. They each had a similar value system and an identical goal in life.
Yet,while Avraham was a magnet of goodness and positivity, Noach was alienating. 
I have always found that some leaders are able to transmit their knowledge and ideas to a welcoming audience, and are able to connect well with the public, while some are not. At all. 
When a person decides to be a leader, he would likely understand that the world is larger than himself. Knowing who you are and where you wanna go is a great awareness to have if  you want to reach your goal. But for a leader, an influential director, that´s not enough. It´s about guiding THE PEOPLE toward that awareness, and helping THEM get to where they want to be.

Avraham and Noach had different definitions of being a leader.

Noach is called by the medrash, ¨tzaddik beparva¨, a tzaddik in a coat.

Say, Noach was teaching a room full of people, when the temperature suddenly dropped. Everyone was freezing. Someone runs up to him and hands him $100 for a coat so that he can teach comfortably. Noach marches off to buy the coat and resumes.
Everyone else is also cold? Nu, life is hard.
Fast forward 10 generations to Avraham. He´s teaching a room full of people, when suddenly the temperature dropped. Everyone was freezing. Someone runs up to him and hands him $100 for a coat so that he can teach more comfortably. Avraham marches off...and comes back with matches and firewood to warm up the room for everyone.

This is precisely the difference between them.

Noach spent 120 years building the ark. 120 years! Do you know how many people he has met during those years? How come he was not able to be a positive influence on even ONE of them? Why has he not been able to teach his ideology and beliefs to even one member of his society?
While Avraham brought countless people with him on his spiritual journey through life, Noach sorely lacked that ability and failed to bring even one.

Spiritual Egotism. When you only care about YOUR spirituality, but no one else´s.
Noach was a good man. He was moral. He was ethical. He was hardworking. But he had no interest in his neighbor´s well being.

The preeminent factor in having any sort of influence on anyone, in being able to help anyone, or in being a good teacher, leader, or friend, is to actually care about them. To really care.
The world is so much bigger than ourselves, and we all have the power to influence the people in it in some way.
All we have to do is care about them. That´s all.

Have a beautiful shabbos, full of rainbows and glitter and unicorns.