The work It Takes to Enjoy Our Gifts

By:Rabbi Yisrael Baron

(Published September 4th, 2012 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers)

Why do so many successful entertainers self destruct?

Do you know what a halfway house is? People released early from jail, on probation, usually go first to a halfway house. Then at a certain point they are allowed to go home. We knew Adam before he was incarcerated. He was very nervous about his pending jail sentence he would have to serve. Then, once he was released, he was sent to a halfway house.

At first, I didn’t get the point of the halfway house, and then it was all clear. After spending time in jail, Adam’s reality had changed to a jail reality. Survival in jail is a whole lot different than on the outside world. Now on his way back into society, Adam needed a time and a place to make that transition and to shift back into the reality of this world.

Everyone lives in a different reality. The individual’s reality is usually anchored to the norms and values around him. In each person’s reality, the point of reference to what can and should be attained is, the usual standard of what has been done already.

Truly great people are not anchored into the reality of their surroundings. They are able to see themselves and the world around them in a different light. That’s why they are called visionaries, because they can visualize a reality different than the common limitations other people see. Thus they have the ability to discover and harness unused energies to create a new reality.

The Jews left Egypt over 3000 years ago, yet the Torah commands us to remember it every day of our lives. We also mention it at every holiday and Sabbath. The message for us in our day and age is to reach beyond our limitations just like the Jews went out of their limitations.

The physical going out of bondage is not enough; we need to change our world view as well. The Jews were supposed to go quickly into Israel from Egypt, but they couldn’t make that transition quick enough. They were in the desert for 40 years and that was their halfway house. They had to forget the Slave mentality and relearn a new reality.

Numerous times, the Jewish people are warned in the Torah: “like the ways of Egypt don’t do.” Now the Jewish people had a new reality; they were no longer slaves. They had left Egypt physically, and now they had to change their mentality as well.

Give someone a gift and don’t teach him how to use it and you are not doing him a favor. On the contrary, you are torturing him. A person who wins the lottery and is broke 5 years later, is then in a worse position than when he started. Or a child who is given freedoms before he has the maturity and tools to use those freedoms effectively, can damage himself.

Likewise, a person who attains freedom, but is still living with the backward slave mentality needs to realign himself with a free man’s reality in order to enjoy the freedoms which he has attained.

Therefore, we must remember that success or freedom is a gift and it must be accompanied with the tools to use that gift. This way, our successes turn into blessings and not curses.

I respect the successful entertainers who manage to stay grounded by finding meaning and purpose in their newfound success.

So next time you wish for something big, be ready to learn the new reality that comes with it.