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Be Who You Want to Be

"Be who you want to be, regardless of how everyone else is being around you." – Karen Berg

In the story of this week’s portion, Vayera, we learn what true and unconditional sharing actually is.

Many religions look to Abraham as the seed character of their spiritual wisdom. On the Tree of Life, he’s known to be the physical embodiment and channel of Chesed (Mercy) due to the quality of unconditional love with which he lived his life.

The story begins on the 3rd day of Abraham’s circumcision. Even for an infant, the 3rd day is known to be the most painful day, and Abraham was well beyond that – aged 99 – when this took place. What’s more, it was a hotter day than ever in the desert; the great sage Rashi described it as “God taking the sun out of his pocket.” It says that God made it so hot this day so Abraham wouldn’t be troubled with people, and he could rest on this most painful day and recover (Abraham was always known for welcoming visitors; his tent even had 4 doors so he could welcome people from all 4 directions.)

However, that was not the consciousness of Abraham. So determined to share was he, he sat outside of his tent, in the scorching heat, in unbearable pain, craving to welcome and care for any guests that travelled his way. As no one was travelling in this great heat, and the Creator couldn’t bear to see his beloved Abraham waiting in vain, the Creator himself sent 3 angels to visit. Despite every painful, external situation pointing and tempting Abraham to the contrary, Abraham ran and chased to greet, feed, and care in every possible way for these strangers.

One of the many amazing things about Abraham, and every kabbalist for 4,000 years since, is their unparalleled ability to share. Most of us consider ourselves pretty decent human beings, volunteering as need be, even giving a bit of charity from time to time. When someone is good to me, I’m usually quite generous in return.

But how do we treat people when we are having a not-so-pleasant day? Or when we feel insulted? In those moments when we’ve been let down? Perhaps betrayed? When we really thought they should have been a better, friend, parent, daughter, etc.?

Karen Berg recently shared in a lecture, “Be who you want to be, regardless of who everyone else is being around you.”

How much are we tainted, diminished and corrupted by people, peer-pressures and the opinions of others? Think about how we dress, how we speak, the friends we have, the friends we wish to have, the people we aspire to mirror or we aspire to not mirror. Think about the routines we engage in. Think about the belief systems we have in relationships, intimacy or at work. How much is really ‘us’ and how much is ‘others’? We’re all so involved and affected by our environment that we lose sight of our spiritual insides (the true nature of our soul), diluting our power and purpose.

Take a moment and breathe in these words: “Be who you want to be, regardless of who everyone else is being around you.” Feel what disturbs you, what causes you to not “Be who you want to be, regardless of who everyone else is being around you.” Engage with the thoughts, ask yourself why we get so fleeting and dismissive, allowing the ego to get the better of us.

This lesson from Abraham is that nothing external stopped him from sharing. Nothing. Not even great physical pain, tremendous heat and great personal discomfort. Abraham’s spiritual strength is described as, “Being able to run upstream against a herd of wild horses.” This week, we can draw from Abraham’s spiritual strength by internalizing the stories about his life. By awakening our own desire and commitment in this way, and despite any situation or person that might tempt us to the contrary, we carry a ‘wild horse herd’ strength to manifest the unconditional love that sits within our souls.

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