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The Only Reason I Want to Live Today is if I’m Changing

Topic: Consciousness | Posted:August 28, 2013

In this week’s portion, Moses is preparing to leave the world, and there is a story in this week’s Midrash that has a very important lesson. Leaving this world was a difficult process for Moses because he wanted to stay; but not why most of us want to stay - because we fear death. Moses didn’t fear death. He wanted to stay to do more work and help more people.

So when the Creator tells Moses it was the day to go - the 7th of Adar (Pisces) – Moses says to the Creator, “Let Joshua be the leader, let him become the teacher, and I’ll be his student, but let me remain in this world.” The Creator asks Moses if he thinks he could really live his life as Joshua’s student after he himself had been the leader, and then tells him to try for one day to behave towards Joshua as Joshua behaves towards Moses as his leader.

Moses goes to Joshua’s house, and Joshua becomes frightened. He didn’t understand. Why is his teacher suddenly coming to his house? Moses says to Joshua, “My master, my teacher, come with me,” and walks to the left of Joshua - the student always walks to the left of the teacher, who walks on the right - and they go to the ohel mo’ed, the Ark of the Covenant, where the Light of the Creator, the prophecy, had been revealed to Moses. The cloud comes down and separates them, and the prophecy comes to Joshua, not Moses. When the cloud leaves, Moses asks Joshua what the prophecy was, what message he got. Joshua is told by the Creator to say, “Did I ask what was revealed to you? It was revealed to me. It wasn’t revealed to you.” In that moment, Moses yells, Me’ah mitot velo kina achat, “I will die a hundred deaths and not feel one jealousy.”

That has always bothered me. How can it be possible that Moses felt jealousy towards Joshua!? Moses was the most perfected soul; he left this world because he had removed all ego, all Desire to Receive for the Self-Alone. Yet it seems like he is saying, I feel so jealous now I can’t take it, I would rather die, and therefore says to the Creator, essentially, “You’re right. It doesn’t work. I can’t be the student to Joshua now and remain in this world.”

It’s a powerful story, but what does it mean that Moses is jealous? How can that be?

There’s a concept called kin’at sofrim, which means having jealousy towards people who are growing spiritually. When you see somebody who is growing you say, “I want to grow in that way as well.” We are not talking about the jealousy of wanting what other people have; that would never enter into the context of the discussion of Moses. What we are talking about is the impetus to grow, to change. When Moses says to Joshua, tell me what the Light told you, tell me what the prophecy is, Joshua is actually telling Moses – “Don’t you realize? Your soul is perfected. You don’t need any more messages. You don’t need any more study. Because you have completely perfected your soul. There is no more growth for you.”

The only reason Moses wants to live in this world is to grow and change. Once Moses sees that he can’t grow any further, he’d rather leave. Every morning when he woke up, his only thought was - if I am not going to grow today, if I’m not going to grow tomorrow, I don’t want to be in this world. And so when he says, Me’ah mitot velo kina achat, he is really saying that death is a better option than lack of growth. Moses realized that his soul had no more growth to accomplish in this world, and the only way he could continue to grow is in the Supernal Worlds once he’s let go from the body.

The lesson here is very important. On this Shabbat, we have to beg for this consciousness of Moses. We go through the day, the month, and think, I’m spiritual. I’m connecting. I’m revealing some Light. But do you really feel that if you’re not going to change or grow today, then you don’t want to be here? Do you feel that there’s no point to your life if you’re not growing or changing?

That is what the life of Moses was about. That is why Moses achieved what he achieved, and the only way we can achieve what we achieve. We have to come to the point where we say, “The only reason I want to live today is if I can change and grow, the only reason I want to live tomorrow is not because I’m scared of death or because I want to be with my family, but because I am going to change and I am going to grow.”

Too many times we are okay with living a spiritual life, with doing our work, with helping some people. But do we have that fire like Moses - me’ah mitot velo kina achat - I would rather die a hundred deaths than have a day when my desire to change, to grow can’t be fulfilled?

That is the way he lived his life, and most of us are far from it. But one of the great gifts that Moses gives us on this Shabbat is to begin to have this understanding that the only reason I want to live today is if I’m changing today, if I’m growing today. If not, there is no reason for me to be in this world. May we all merit to some degree or another to receive that great gift- and so many others - of this Shabbat.

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