What makes YOU special? What are YOUR talents? What makes YOU unique?
Do you dance? Sing? Read Morse Code? Play the ukulele? Ride a unicycle?
Are you athletic? A tech genius? Gorgeous? Fabulously wealthy?
The truth of the matter is that despite what we try to portray (or more accurately, fake) on our social media accounts, many of us lead lives that seem boringly average. Deep down we worry that our friend’s Instagram seems much more interesting, and we know that we will likely never match up to the glamor of celebrity athletes or actresses. These feelings lead many of us to spend an inordinate amount of time closely following the lives of the stars and living the celebrity life vicariously, frequently updating our social media to portray a life that we wish we actually had.
Anything not to be considered (to ourselves and others) a Plain Jane, an Average Joe.
What we don’t spend enough time on is in figuring out all of the non-superficial things that really do make us special, and determining our purpose in the grand scheme of things.
This week’s Torah portion is one of several that describe the intricate design of the Mishkan – the temporary Temple that traveled along with the Jews in the desert, and the many utensils that were contained in it. Shockingly, all this work was done by a nation of slaves that had never had any guidance on how to perform the weaving, the working with gold and silver, the building, etc. that was required. The Torah describes those who did the work not as talented with their hands, but as those who had “wisdom of the heart.” The commentaries explain that the people so wanted to make a difference and add to the spiritual welfare of the nation that they dug deep and discovered talents they hadn’t even known they possessed.
Traditionally, the first words out of the mouth of a Jew each morning comprise a short, beautiful prayer called “Modeh Ani,” which gives thanks to G-d for giving us another day, and ends with the words “great is your faithfulness.” Although these words can be understood to mean that it is great for us to have faith in the Almighty, it can be also understood as proclaiming that G-d’s faith in us is great.
By granting us another day, G-d is saying that he has trust, faith, that there is some talent unique to each one of us, something that only YOU can accomplish today. Every new day comes along with the opportunity for us to make a meaningful difference. We just need the “wisdom of the heart” to recognize our special gifts and put them to work.
Don’t be afraid to give it your best shot. G-d Himself has trust in you.
Rabbi Yitzchok Oratz is the Rabbi and Director of the Monmouth Torah Links community. Shortly after receiving his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Bais Medrash Govoha, the famed Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Oratz, along with his wife Toby and family, moved to Marlboro, NJ where they co-founded the MTL community in 2001. Aside for his “Devar on the Par” that he writes for MTL, his writings have also been published on Aish, Times of Israel, Seforim Blog, Hakira, and in various Rabbinic journals. Rabbi Oratz looks forward to continuing teaching Torah in a way that is timely and timeless, and sharing meaningful Jewish experiences with the amazing MTL community.