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Are we making progress?

Friday, 17 July, 2020 - 5:51 pm

Highways.jpgSometimes it might seem that as a society we might be slipping backwards and losing parts of our values and accomplishments that have taken so long to achieve. Sometimes it may appear that we are simply treading water and going around in circles and then there are the moments when we feel like we are actually making progress and advancing towards growth and positive change in society.

What is true in the macro dimension is true in the micro aspects too. Sometimes we might feel that personally we are slipping backwards from who we ought to be, sometimes we are simply stagnating and not making any positive changes in who we need to be and sometimes we feel a surge of joy as we make progress and move forward in doing good and achieving what needs to be accomplished.

Ironically we often look at the journey of growth and success only from the angle of the moments of actual positive change, successful experiences and real progress. Yet in truth, life is a journey, and the progress that we make is not simply from the moments that we are actually advancing forward, instead the journey is one of progress and growth that has moments of advance, moments of stagnation, and yes even moments of regression. Each and every part of our life encounters and experiences are part of our unique journey that will help us accomplish our potential and add our unique touch to the world.

Sure, the moments of actual progress may feel like the ones where you move forward, but in truth, sometimes it is from the experiences that set us back or cause us to stagnate, that we experience the most personal and societal growth.

It is precisely this message that the famous Chassidic leader, the Baal Shem Tov, used to explain the messaging of this week's Torah portion. In one section, Moses proceeds to list all of the forty two journeys that the Jewish people took in the forty years in the desert.

Interestingly, the Torah begins out describing journeys yet it instead describes places where they stopped and paused over the forty years. In addition some of the journeys that they took, did not lead them closer to their goals, but instead took them further away from their eventual goal. Finally, many of the places where they lived had not just positive experiences, but also many places where crisis, challenges, plagues, rebellion, disappointment and more occurred.

Yet despite all of this, Moses refers to all of these forty two journeys as being part of the process of leaving the land of Egypt and journeying to the land of Israel. Every single journey including the ones that led them backwards, including the many stops that involved challenges and weakness, were in truth all a part of what helped them actually arrive at their eventual destination.

When seen in this light, we can view the journey of life in the macro and in the micro in a different light. Even when it might seem like we are sometimes back stepping or treading water in changing who we need to be and doing the good that is so important, let's not beat ourselves up about that.

Let's instead remember that those moments too are intrinsically part of our journey and when used right can become the motivators, triggers and more that help us continue forward and successfully reach our goals.

Perfection is not the goal, consistency in trying to be better is the goal of the journey and what will make our world be the place that it needs to be.

Good luck in your travels!

Shabbat Shalom


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