The Motivation to Grow

Rabbi's Message - April 27, 2021

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

On Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer, we are reminded of the greatness of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi (Rashbi), a sage from 2nd- century ancient Judea who had been a disciple of Rabbi Akiva and is believed to have written the Zohar.  It is said that he passed away on this day.  One of quotes attributed to him is the following:  

 “Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow! Grow!'” – Bereishit Rabbah 10:6

Many years ago, when I first came upon this quote, it spoke to me deeply.  I laminated a small placard with these words and it remains next to a plant sitting in our Temple office.  Especially when I was working with younger congregants, I found its message one that we could all stand to be reminded of from time to time.  God has great aspirations for all of us, even the smallest blade of grass, but sometimes each of us needs a little boost to keep us moving toward our own self-fulfillment.  

As children of Israel, we are familiar with these moments.   We are “God-wrestlers”, after all, committed to the holy work of wrestling with God, with Torah, and with a broken world.  It is not always easy.  In fact, it is often challenging, exhausting, and painful.  In our quest for meaning and clarity, we have all faced moments when we lacked motivation or fulfillment and found ourselves “stuck.”  Especially during this pandemic, we have also felt alone.  In a world of more than 7.5 billion human beings, there are times that we doubt the impact of one human, of one voice.  

It is comforting to know that there are those out there, perhaps God’s angels, rooting for us and reminding us that victory is up ahead, that the Promised Land is on the horizon.  I imagine these angels as hardcore gym trainers, motivating athletes when they’ve been pushed to the brink of their strength.  When we find ourselves in those moments, we must not give up, but remember that each of us has a destiny to fulfill.  God is here for us, even in our growing pains, reminding us that we must continue to grow in Torah, even when it hurts.  There will be times when we seek motivational voices, are those inspirational voices, or even provide those encouraging words to others.  We must be those angelic voices supporting one another, not just during the easy moments, but the difficult, as well.  This is part of what makes us a holy community.


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