26 Av 5781 / Wednesday, August 04, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Cure for Every Crisis

If we are happy with our lot, and strive to expand based on what we have, desire can be an extension of gratitude. That's what makes it holy…


"Dave, don't try to accomplish things you aren't built for. There are so many successes you will have in your life, and I am behind you 100% in all of them. But to gain influence just to say you have it is a waste of time, especially when this isn't your strong point."


At that moment, I wanted to scream. Nothing shatters worse than the truth. I am 44 and all my life I wanted what we all want -- to make it to the top. There was always this drive inside me that if I kept at it, I would rise above it all. 


It carried me past some of my hardest moments. But I had to concede that she was right, this drive was going in the wrong direction. The destination I so dearly wanted, led me to a mirage. 


At 44, this was my point of mid-life crisis. A dream carried from my youth has evaporated. Sincere hopes have floated away like dissipating smoke. 


Enter the Prozac, ice cream, and . . .. WAIT!


The next day, we took our children to the top of Mount Hermon. We live in Afula, in the Jezreel Valley where it's usually very warm. We stepped out and the cold crisp air felt like an injection of pure energy. We hiked for about an hour. Then we went to the old fortress at Gamle and trekked past a waterfall. We capped it all off eating Chinese food in Tiberius and going to the candy store for desert. 


On the drive home we didn't stop laughing. All of us felt like 9-year-old children. Old enough to appreciate everything, but young enough to be indifferent to life's difficulties. We all felt so good, free of any troubles. It was so warm and so happy. 


That's when I understood.


I am happy with my lot in life. I don't need any more. Just focus on celebrating what's here today. It's more important than anything I may -- or may never have tomorrow. 


Channeling Desire


It's hard to want more of anything unless you are unsatisfied with what you have. It can be livelihood. It can be Torah learning. It can be how we measure success – power and influence. The risk is that if you are happy with what you have, you may not have the desire to move forward. 


But if you have to be unhappy with your lot to want something better, how do we move forward without being ungrateful? Can ingratitude ever be Kosher?


If we are happy with our lot, and strive to expand based on what we have, desire can be an extension of gratitude. That's what makes it holy.


But not what makes it easy.


I still have bits of anger. It's hard to let go of youthful ambition. But every time I do, it only puts me into a place where I am forced to remember what I am grateful for, and where I need to expand -- like being a more attentive father, loving husband, and grateful child of G-d in this world.


The hardest moments are social media. Everybody looks like they are doing better. Nothing convinces me otherwise. While I should be happy for everyone else, especially fellow Jews because the groups I am on are mostly Jewish and Israel related, it's hard not to feel resentment.


It's just another test.


Today, the radical left and the extreme right are breaking all the taboos about hating our brothers and sisters. As this hatred closes in on us from both sides, gratitude is our only way out. Rabbi Brody says that the greatest way to protect ourselves is to stop hating each other. If we are happy with our lot, it becomes easier to root for one another and cheer on their successes.


I guess sometimes it's best to stop running forward with eyes on the finish line, turn around or sit down, and look inward. Once you see that there is no finish line and we are exactly where Hashem wants us, the real gratitude can begin, and we can bless each other with a love that can Redeem us all.



* * *

David Ben Horin is the developer for The Aliyah Boot Camp, an online video course for anyone considering life in Israel. He also wrote The Great Life Hack, a guide to self-greatness by utilizing our deepest passions to get what we want. You can have this for free.

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