This week's parsha
You Can(’t) Help Yourself!
If you look around, I am sure you could spot the life-coach who can't get his own life together; the marriage counselor whose marriage is either history or well on the way; and the parent who preaches to her children to "stop scratching and biting over blocks of Lego" while she is constantly brawling over pride and money.
It is quite obvious that many of us can help anyone but ourselves.
We have advice for our children on how to handle stress. We advise our co-workers on how to manage their time. We teach our students the value of study. And of course we educate our parents how to be parents...
...Yet in our own lives, we are enrolled in an anger management club. Our time management is in serious need of a new CEO. An article longer than 300 words is avoided like the plague. And our own parenthood is a non-issue because we just celebrated our sixteenth birthday.
There are many junctures in our lives when we need objectivity and clarity in order to see our strengths and weaknesses for what they are. Dating, career seeking, child rearing and relationship struggles are just but a sample of stages in our lives when an unbiased view can serve as a potential lifesaver, and where we can be our own worst enemy.
That is why the sages of old have advised and instructed to "Appoint a mentor for yourself!" Find yourself someone who can be your guide, your objective compass—pushing, advising and instructing you on how you can be the real you.
Therapists are nice (and expensive) and there are times when they are needed. But not every issue calls for therapy. There are the times when all we need is someone who knows us, who cares for us, a wise person with a little life experience who can save us from ourselves—by seeing the reality for what it is, rather than what we perceive it to be.
And dedicated. The mentor must be dedicated.
Let me share an insight. Shortly before his passing, Moses established "Cities of Refuge." What is a City of Refuge? If a person was guilty of manslaughter, and a family member of the victim was chasing after him to kill him to avenge his next of kin's death, these cities served as a safe zone where the killer could stay and -- in the words of the Torah (Deuteronomy 4:42) -- "live."
From the fact that Torah says that he should "live" in them, and it's a given that one cannot live without Torah, our Sages ruled that the killer's Torah teacher must accompany his pupil to his city of refuge!
A real mentor follows you to exile. A real mentor is there for you even when you don't think you need him. A real mentor will pull you by the bootstraps out of any rut you fall in.
My dear friends, may we all find such mentors, and may we serve as such mentors to others.
Oh, what a world it will be…