From Standing Still to Jumping Forward

Rabbi Aron Moss contributes regular Q&A commentaries to Gather the Jews.  Rabbi Moss is the proprietor of Nefesh and can be reached at rabbimoss@nefesh.com.au.  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rabbi Moss.

Question of the Week:

My life has come to a standstill. I’m bored at work, and my relationship is going nowhere. I think I need a change of scenery. Should I move away, or do you think a career change will be enough?

Answer:

There’s only one problem with changing scenery. Wherever you go, you’ll still be there. Even if everything around you changes – your address, your job, your partner, your car – as long as you are the same old you, you will be living the same old life.

The human soul has a deep need for growth. Stagnation is poison to the soul. What was good enough yesterday is insufficient for today, and the me of the past will not satisfy us in the future. We need to be constantly adding new insights, facing new challenges and charting new territory. To achieve this, we need not go anywhere. We need just to look inside ourselves and change our inner scenery.

You don’t need a career move. You need a soul move. Embark on some new challenges in your spiritual life. Go and buy an inspiring and meaningful book and read a little every day. Feed your mind with new ideas. Challenge yourself to work on a character weakness, like being more patient with your parents or coworkers, or thinking before you speak. Take on a new mitzvah, like putting on Tefillin in the morning or saying a blessing before and after eating.

The changes need not be big and dramatic, but they must be consistent. We learn this lesson from the Chanukah candles.

On the first night of Chanukah we light one candle, on the second two, and we continue to add one new candle each night, until the eighth and final night when we light eight candles. This means that what was enough yesterday is not enough today. If on the fourth night of Chanukah I light four candles, I have fulfilled the mitzvah perfectly. But if I light the same four candles on the fifth night, I am lacking, I have fallen behind. Every new day requires another new candle.

If you aren’t growing spiritually, if you haven’t added more light, you are stagnating. Not even a new iPhone can fill that void. But if you just add one candle, a single spiritual challenge and one solitary step further in your soul journey, then you have changed from within, and the whole world changes with you.

All the best,

Rabbi Moss