5 Kislev 5778 / Thursday, November 23, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
 
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Paint by Number    

Paint by Number



We tap into our inner power by thinking less about ourselves and more about the connection we have to others and to the Infinite. How do we do this?

 



When I was growing up, I had two favorite rainy day activities---working on 300-piece puzzles and painting by numbers. As I reflect on those simple non-technological pursuits, I realize that there existed a subliminal message back then that invigorated my excitement to engage in these pastimes. The message was that my effort would lead me to one day experience a beautiful completed picture. I knew what I was working toward. I anticipated success. I had a vision in front of me of what the accomplishment would look like when I finally manifested the final product---the goal of my dedicated effort. This was the motivating factor that kept me engaged, enthusiastic, and excited about my journey to completion.

 

So having graduated from both activities to something bigger and more encompassing, I transferred this realization to life itself. If working on a large puzzle or on a number painting would eventually render a masterpiece fit to hang on the wall, most assuredly our day-to-day lives, on a much grander scale, are designed to move us toward completion of a unified single work of genius emanating from the Mind of the Master Creator. When we become aware that there is a goal, believe in it, trust in its coming to fruition, and gear our lives to its fulfillment, would we not be just as motivated to get to work so we could experience the thrill of participating in and witnessing positive progress toward it?

 

So what is the goal of life? What are we doing here? Is our job to become resilient and withstand challenges? Are we here to simply learn lessons? What unified goal are we all working toward that will manifest quicker when more of us concentrate our energies on it, likening it to piecing the puzzle together and painting different colors within prescribed lines?

 

We are told that it is good to work backwards. We envision the ultimate goal, and we break it into small steps. Exactly what did the Master Creator have in mind? To what goal are we committed? When we align with Hashem, we soar from the realm of a finite being to the realm of unlimited possibilities by stretching beyond our comfort zone. We are here to refine a particular character trait or traits, so we tap into our inner power to be more by thinking less about ourselves and more about the connection we have to others and to the Infinite. How do we do this? We opt to move beyond our natural inclination so that we choose to do good by listening to others instead of trying to always be understood. We especially exhibit effort in those mitzvos that are uniquely difficult for us to do.

 

A goal to have in mind is connection, where the Jewish people become one with each other and with Hashem. We do this by way of emuna. We trust in the mitzvos:  We do not waver from the belief that they hold an invisible spiritual energy---an electric charge---that will light up the world to dissolve the evil floating around. When we strengthen our roots---our identity---on a larger scale, the façade of negativity crumbles. This means two things:  (1) We work with Hashem to subdue our evil inclination in an area that is difficult for us and (2) We choose “to be Jewish”, meaning we do Jewish things according to G-d’s plan, including lighting Shabbat candles on time, honoring the Shabbat, dressing modestly, covering our hair (women), donning tefillin and tzitzit (men), and submerging in a mikvah.  We practice emuna as explained in the article, “The Emuna 26”. The mitzvos are like the puzzle pieces or the numbers in the sections of the painting. They represent our mission and hold the key to the grander picture. What does that picture look like when completed?

 

In the end we are promised a beautiful symphony by way of unity, emuna, and recognizing Hashem, a future time when the body and soul unify. When we hold firm to the truth of this vision, we become energized to paint those numbers and put together the puzzle pieces of our lives in conjunction with all our brothers and sisters. When we stop chasing rainbows, focus on the big picture, and rework our inner lives so that we live on purpose, we can expect that the vision we are promised will be hastened in the generation post Holocaust. Is there any reason to be concerned about anything else?

 

In tracing our lineage, we find that compliance breeds continuity. Too many in my extended family turned away from truth, and they, consequentially, left few or no descendants. I married into a family that emanated from Ya’akov Steiner, a committed Jewish patriarch who built a mikvah (a ritual bath) and a schoolhouse in Hungary. His legacy lives on, Baruch Hashem. Our real job in this world is to help complete the masterpiece, connect the dots, fill in the numbers, live on purpose, help finish the puzzle, and never stop believing in our connection to the Divine. May we unite in this goal in our lifetime, amen.





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