Yesterday, we discussed the importance of being awesome. But we also mentioned the flip side of that, and the fact that Parshat Shlach and Parshat Korach are juxtaposed. In Parshat Shlach, as we mentioned yesterday, we are told the story of the spies, who mistakenly think that they are too small and insignificant to accomplish their mission, whereas in Parshat Korach we are told the story of Korach, a bad guy who wants to take over the leadership of the Jewish people, his claim is, “כִּי כָל-הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדֹשִׁים – All of us are holy”, his claim was that because everyone of the Jewish people was special and holy there should be no leadership from Moses and Aaron. He misplaced the attitude we expressed yesterday.
There was once a Chassidic Rebbe, Simcha Bunim about whom the following story is told:
One of the leading Rebbes of the 19th century, Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Pshischa, once addressed his disciples with a surprising yet important request: “Write two truths on two separate notes,” he ordered them. “Let one state the teaching of our Sages, ‘For my sake the world was created.’ The other should spell the verse uttered by our forefather Avraham: ‘I am dust and ashes.’ Now place these two notes into your pockets. When you are feeling useless, take out the note that states that ‘the world was created for you.’ But if your achievements engender self-arrogance, take out the second note and remember that you are but ‘dust and ashes.’ “
This is the secret to self-esteem and the secret to being awesome, looking at the big picture. There are times in life when it is appropriate to be a giant, to be awesome and to take the world by the horns…to realize that the whole world is created for you. There are other times when this is not appropriate, there are time when it is appropriate to realize that we are not so great and that we are merely grasshoppers.
This was the mis-step of the spies in Shlach and the mis-step of Korach in Korach, not that they were to humble or to haughty, but rather that they did not apply these attitudes at the appropriate times.
This is a difficult concept to grasp, let me try to explain it a little more clearly. As we said before, each and every one of us is unique and only I can accomplish my specific purpose in this universe, this means that I am awesome and the whole world was created for me. However, at the same time, I cannot, no matter how hard I try, accomplish your purpose, which means I am “nothing but dust and ashes” and the whole world was created for you. It is almost a paradox, but we must learn to balance these two ideas.
The way to balance these ideas is as follows, realize that you are awesome and unique, but not to exclusion of others, realize that you are part of a bigger picture and that that picture would be incomplete without you, but at the same time you are a very small part of that picture. Realize that each of us is unique and special and has our own task and responsibility as well as a uniquely suited tool-kit for that purpose and that just because someone is different doesn’t make them better or worse, don’t try to be someone else, you can’t, just be the best you that you can be.
Today, you Jewish mission is to feel the bigger picture. Go take a hike and see the massiveness of the universe, look at the stars and feel small, find a large crowd and realize that each of the people in that crowd has an entire life that you are not privy to. Get lost in the big picture, but then realize that without you, there is no picture.
Learn to understand when to be awesome and when to realize that sometimes being awesome means letting someone else be awesome.