Reb Shlomo Carlebach zt"l
(Via Stuie Wax)
“And G-d has sent me ahead of you
To insure your survival in the land
- Genesis 45:7
Reaching Beyond Yourself
I want to open your hearts to something very deep.
Do you know what G-d wants of us? G-d doesn’t want me to be exactly what I can be. G-d wants me to be so much more. A dog can only be a dog, an apple can only be an apple. Cheesecake will always be cheesecake. Do you know what G-d wants of me? G-d wants me to reach beyond myself, which is so much deeper than just meeting my potential.
The question is, how does one master this? How do you get there?
You don’t reach beyond yourself by reading a book, or even by learning and listening. You will still be just yourself. When do you reach beyond yourself? There are moments when you have the opportunity to do something for another human being, beyond yourself. It is at those moments when I can grow two billion miles in a second.
Let me ask you something friends, when I have a chance to yell at somebody, when I have the opportunity of tearing somebody apart, but at that moment I say ‘no, master of the world, I’m not going there’. Do you know where I’m reaching? I’m reaching way beyond myself.
If parents would know that each time they are about to yell at their children, that it’s their biggest opportunity to reach above… they wouldn’t yell. Whenever someone asks me for a favor and it’s something which is hard for me to do, do you know what happens to me when I am doing it? I’m not doing them a favor, I’m doing me a favor. This is a great moment given to me by G-d to reach beyond myself, and to grow two million miles in one second.
Do you know why children are so discouraged with their parents? Their parents may have taken this assertiveness training course, and they may have read every book on parenting, but you know what? Children are growing, and while they are growing, their parents look the same to them from the day they were born. Do you know what kind of opportunity our children give us every day to reach beyond ourselves?
I want you to know something deeper. When I have every reason to yell at somebody and I don’t, I reach beyond myself. But you know what happens to the person I could have yelled at? I take them with me.
And here I want to share with you from Reb Nachman, which is awesome. Do you know what the hardest thing in the world is? Not to be angry. Reb Nachman says that at that moment when I can yell at you and I don’t, I lift you up as well. I can take the lowest person and lift them up to high heaven. Reb Nachman says, if you are close enough that what they are doing actually bothers you, you can lift them up as well.
If you tell me that a stranger did something wrong to another stranger, I have to tell you the sad truth, and this is not a good side of me, It doesn’t bother me so much It should, but it doesn’t. But if I’m so close to you and it bothers me so much that I am angry at you like crazy, what it really means is that I’m that close to you. And if I’m that close to you, I’m also close enough to lift you up.
You see what it is, it’s not enough anymore to just realize your potential. What the world needs for us, for you, for me, is to reach beyond ourselves and lift each other up. Mamash, we have no other choice.