In Parshat Ki-Tisa we read the tragic story of cheit ha-eigel, the golden calf. After Bnei Yisrael fashioned the golden calf and offered sacrifices to it, "the nation sat to eat and drink, and they then got up to revel" (32:6).
The Midrash (Shemot Rabba 41) comments on the word "va-yeishev" ("sat") used by the Torah in this context. While this term makes perfect sense in this story, the Midrash observes a pattern of its usage in Biblical stories involving sins. The story of Migdal Bavel began when the people "settled" ("va-yeishvu") in the Shinar Valley (Bereishit 11:2). Likewise, in the story of mechirat Yosef, we read that the brothers "sat to eat bread" ("va-yeishvu le-echol lechem" - Bereishit 37:25) just before they sold Yosef as a slave. Here, too, in the context of the golden calf, we find the nation "sitting to eat" - "va-yeishev ha-am le-echol." The Midrash concludes, "Wherever you find 'sitting,' you find transgression."
The Midrash warns that feeling too content with one's achievements and spiritual condition can often lead to wrongful behavior. Religious devotion requires desire for growth and advancement. The Sages saw within the pattern of "va-yeishev" a warning against feeling too comfortable. While we must certainly take pride and satisfaction in what we've achieved, we must also be concerned about what we have yet to achieve.
This year we have been focusing on the concept of a "Growth Mindset" with our faculty and staff. A Growth Mindset is the idea that we all have the ability to improve our intellectual and academic capabilities over time. It is the idea that we must believe, that through hard work we can accomplish tasks which were previously impossible. We must instill this idea into our students and encourage them to continuously grow and improve in all aspects of their lives. Hopefully, as we continue on the calendar towards Pesach, we will continue our trajectory of growth as a community, a school, and as individuals.