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  • Writer's pictureAliza Davidovit

Who Are You?

Pulling out my calling cards made me feel important: ABC News, Fox News, Lifestyles Magazine, not shabby affiliations by any means. And as a journalist, I have to admit, at the onset of my career, meeting prominent people was intoxicating. There it was, my name in the byline next to world-famous headliners, congressmen, journalists and rock stars. At first, I was so proud of myself—a superstar by affiliation, but not for long. When you rub shoulders with such people, what really rubs off?

As we know well, all that glitters is not gold. For the most part, it was a fake world, simultaneously bamboozled and paranoid with itself. Some of the people I interviewed and met have been indicted and have done pretty bad things; am I now guilty by association? It seems only fair, seeing I gained honor from their klieg lights. At what expense, I ask, are we hanging on to our titles, prestige or make-belief visions and versions of ourselves? A whole life goes by without truth. We cling to every status symbol, strive for even more, never deeply contemplating who the real audience is.

I consider myself fortunate because for every "star" I've pursued, I was keenly aware of the presence of a Higher Power above them, Hashem. When I finally realized I was living in a vapid world of make-believe, there was something real and unchanging for me to grasp onto—G-d and His Torah. Scrolled up in the heart of every synagogue is the true infinite source of light, not one that switches off when the show is over or burns out midway.

To be fair, some whom I’ve met were highly inspirational and I’ve learned from them. But my proudest affiliation is with G-d. Working for Him alone is when I really became a somebody. And I’m proud of my latest title. No, it is not editor-in-chief, producer, pundit, or Queen of Questions—it is a servant of G-d. In this job, what is real about me has lasted; sculpted by the word of G-d, the stardust is all gone.

We have only to look to Moses as the ideal role model. He never even applied for the greatest job in history. He was assigned it nonetheless, for his resume had life’s greatest and rarest trait, humility. The greatest prophet in history, who spoke face-to-face with G-d, did not have business cards that read Prophet-in-Chief or CEO of the Torah. Moses was called a servant of G-d. His humility made him the worthy and blessed vessel to receive the greatest gift ever given to humanity, the Torah. King David's humility too made him the greatest king in history: "And I am a worm and not a man." (Psalms 22:17)

Today, humility is more rare than ever. Our egos and pride have become massive scaffolds holding up our house of cards. But when life huffs and puffs, it will blow our house down.

In this week’s Torah reading, once again, Moses laments the fact that G-d won’t let him into the Promised Land. He beseeches G-d 515 times, to no avail. We are taught that Moses begged G-d to let him enter the Land even as a beast of the field. Titles didn’t matter to Moses. To serve G-d, to reach the prized destination following the liberation from Egypt, he was ready for the most dramatic of demotions. He knew what we egoists can’t get through our swollen heads, nothing matters but G-d. He is the only audience we have, “ein od milvado.”/ “There is nothing but Him.” When one acknowledges that fact deeply, pretense begins to fall away. If we adjust our self-talk from "all eyes are on me" to "HIS eyes are on me," then we will be putting on a completely different show. Misleading pretexts will give way to genuine purpose. (And friends, it’s never ever too late.)

When we leave a job, retire, or get fired, and our business cards become obsolete as we are no longer who they say we are, then who are we? If we want to know who we are, then we must know from where we come. We are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are the students of Moses and the trustees of the Divine word chosen by God Himself. We are Jews. Deliverers of light. That is our job and duty. So, stop focusing on the calling cards and bend your ear toward your calling.

Shabbat Shalom!


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