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This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2017.
“This, above all, to thine own self be true.” -These words of wisdom from William Shakespeare reflect the enduring truth for humanity.
In our world of physicality where conformity is the norm, it is so difficult to be who we are, to express the innermost essence that is our heart, and yet this is all that the Creator truly asks of us. It takes great courage to be ourselves.
"For in being ourselves, we can reveal the unique spark of the Divine that the Creator within us."
In reading this week’s portion of Mishpatim, we find that it discusses the social laws of how to behave and not behave, which includes the laws of slavery. And in last week’s portion of Yitro, you may also recall that the first of the Ten Commandments was the statement, “I am the Lord thy God, who brought you out of the house of bondage.”
Why is so much of the Bible dedicated to the disconcerting subjects of slavery and bondage – those aspects of history that are not relevant to us today, at least as a socially accepted construct? Rav Berg would often say that if he had only read troubling stories of the Bible at face value, he might never have continued with his studies. What the Rav learned from his teacher is that every nuance of every word in the Bible is overflowing with hidden meaning that gives purpose and method to life.
The Zohar reveals that, like all the concepts of the Bible, the ideas of slavery and bondage are not meant to be taken literally. For they represent aspects of human nature that we are meant to battle and win so we can discover our true nature. If we look inside ourselves we may find there are times in which we do live in bondage. Are we all not a little enslaved to something – be it power, wealth, knowledge, control, or approval just to name a few? Each of us have desires that drive us to a place where we are no longer truly free. How often are we afraid to say what we truly believe because it is all too important how the world perceives us? I think we’re so busy trying to look good that we forget our essence is to be good. Most importantly, we forget to be true to ourselves. For in being ourselves, we can reveal the unique spark of the Divine that the Creator imbued and invested in us so that we could emanate it outward to the world.
This week, please remember that no one has the spark of the Creator that is within you. Your spiritual mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find a way to reveal it. Do not be afraid to be who you are, or of allowing others to be who they are. Be who you were born to be. Because no one, but no one, can be you like you can. Let your Light shine bright!
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