Friday, January 10, 2014

Fear Of Change

There was a study done in the United States a few years ago. The results were astonishing.
Since I don't remember the percentage in numbers, I won't make believe I know them. But what I do recall very clearly is this: A large majority of adults are more afraid to move  to a different city, and start a new job, meet new neighbors, make new friends,..... than they are of dying.  
Were the statistics similar in Egypt, 3300 years ago?
 Rashi explains that  Vachamushim means that only one fifth of the Jewish people left Mitzraim. What happened to the other four fifths?  Four fifths of the Jewish people did not leave Mitzraim, since they got killed during the makah of choshech- darkness. Why were they killed? Because they didn't want to leave Mitzraim. They were happy and comfortable where they were. They were used to their lives, and just didn't want to leave. 
How dare I accuse them of such an attitude? 
Rashi, in Parshat Bahalotcha writes that after the redemption, on their way to receive the Torah, they had the easiest, most relaxing lives one can ever imagine. They strolled through the desert, received food from the sky, no need to shop, no need to cook, no need to work for a living, no looking for parking, no gaining weight (!!!)... . I mean, after 210 years of slavery, man, this was the life! This defines freedom!
But yet, what happened? Were they full of gratitude? Were they overwhelmed with love for their Savior? It doesnt seem so. In Parshat Bahalotcha Rashi  describes the kvetches and complaints of the Jewish people in the desert. They cried out to Moshe that they want to go back to Egypt! 
They said they wanted to turn around and head straight back to Egypt... where they had free fish.  
Free fish? Are they serious?
Yup, you heard right. Those were the exact words.They didn't like the munn thing- they wanted more items on the menu. They wanted  to go back to where they got fish for free.
Didn't we all learn this story at least 30 times since we were born? In Miztraim they were slaves. They did back breaking work. They sweated their pores dry. They got beaten. Why on earth did they want to go back to that place, and why in heaven did they claim that they had fish for free there? They didn't even get straw for free, how could they have gotten free sushi?!
Wow. Do you get what this means?
Even though while residing in Egypt they worked themselves ragged, their lives were so bitter, they had no rights, they were beaten to a pulp, and they just lived in misery...they still preferred to go back to that living hell, rather than have to change their lifestyle. They chose slavery over freedom; over a life of following the Torah. They were too afraid of all the responsibilities that come along with this lifestyle.
 Why? How could they do something so stupid? Easily. Even though their lives in Mitzraim were miserable, they were still so accustomed to living that way, that they'd rather remain slaves, where it's 'comfortable', than have an better life, but have to make major changes to enjoy it.
This sounds strange. Are they all victims of self injury?
But the painful truth is that we all, in some way, make the same self destructive decisions sometimes.
I've been acquainted with kids who have developed anxiety at the thought of moving up to high school. Their fears advance at the start of college. Sometimes the anxiety is so powerful that it actually blocks them from applying or attending university, which obviously causes them to remain with a limited level of education.    
There are also those that are offered promotions in their carreers, but decline due to the fear of leaving their hometown and having to make new lifestyle adjustments. Therefore, they remain mediocre instead of advancing. They'd choose to stay at a lower position, and lower income,  rather than make any changes.

Unfortunately, there are people who choose to remain victims in abusive relationships, even with opportunities to leave, due to those same fears.

The munn that the Jews recieved in the midbar, came with strings attached. They can have it... but they have to start keeping the mitzvos now. The fish that they got in Mitzraim was FREE!!  No responsibilities. No obligations. No changes.
Although we might be tempted at times to stay where we are, whether in a physical, emotional, or spiritual sense, in order to avoid change and adjustment, running away from the 'fear of the unknown', we have to realize that such behavior will cause us to remain in whatever state we are (if not a lower one)... forever. We will go nowhere and become no one. 
Changing a behavior or a mindset creates a challenge. Challenge creates growth.  Achievement and greatness comes from accepting the responsibilities that a life of meaning is offering. 
Without enduring  change and growth, we are opting for a life of slavery.  Bad move.
"If you do things the same way you've always done them, you'll get the same outcomes you've always gotten".
Have a beautiful shabbos,