Thursday, 25 August, 2022 - 10:11 pm

Often times we are faced with a challenge that we can't seem to overcome and then out of left field a solution rises to the surface that resolves the whole thing.

The solution to a problem is often something totally unrelated to the problem itself.

The month of Elul, the month of preparation for the Days of Awe is arriving! Our focus has shifted to analyzing our character and working on bettering ourselves. All the character "deficiencies" that we work on cleaning up all have the same origin. If we could correct that origin all would be well.
In a word, EGO!

Now ego is not a bad thing. Without it some of the greatest accomplishments in life would not have developed. Without ego we wouldn't accomplish anything. We would always see ourselves as "nothings". Ego is an important part of who we are. But the flip side is that ego is also the root of everything negative. Anger, jealousy, selfishness, impatience, etc. all stem from ego.

  • Anger- How dare you do that to ME? Jealousy - Why shouldn't I have that?
  • Selfishness - Why should I share with you?
  • Impatience - Why aren't you hurrying up, I am waiting?

And the list goes on! Let alone the really bad evil stuff that stems from a really rotten ego. Evil - The way I see the world is the only way and anybody who doesn't do it my way has got to go!

So what is the solution? The Torah says that if one has a roof (which is on the high places of one’s house) and a individual is likely to fall of it, we are instructed by Biblical injunction to place a fence around that roof.

The roof is an analogy for our ego. The ego can be found on high places and we are likely on account of it to fall. Therefore the Torah tells us to put a fence around it. We are instructed to set for ourselves identifiers that will help us realize whether we are responding to our negative ego or if our behavior is coming from somewhere holy inside of us.

Try this at home:

  • Pick a behavior that you struggle with.
  • Identify its negative source in the ego.
  • Now set for yourself a sign for the next time this behavior appears, to stop and take 20 seconds to identify the source.

For example if the behavior is anger, the sign could be that your heart starts beating faster or that your face gets flushed. At that moment stop and ask yourself one question. "Is this coming from a holy place inside of me or from negative ego?" Then follow it up with this question, "Am I falling off the roof?"

Let's take some time during this time of spiritual stock taking to build some fences around our ego roof.

Have a great week!

May you be inscribed and sealed in the book of life.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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