Personal growth and development is an aspiration we all share. As human beings, we are naturally inclined to want to achieve our fullest potential.
There are a range of areas where this innate desire can find expression. Surely however, growth and maturity on a personal level should be a top priority.
The question is, what are the metrics by which we measure that growth?
A telling insight can be gained from this week’s Torah portion. In describing the emergence of Moses as leader of the Jewish people, the verse says the following: “Moses grew up and went out to his brethren and saw their burdens”. (Exodus 2:11)
Moses was living in a world of luxury, insulated and protected from the common people. His was a privileged life in the royal palace, yet he was profoundly discontented with the state of inequality. He wanted to see and experience the plight of his persecuted brethren.
He decides therefore to venture outside his natural habitat, and enter a new world to which he is not accustomed.
In other words, he is leaving his world so that he can enter a new world. One can only begin to appreciate a new reality if one is prepared to leave the old one.
Yet the journey is not complete with that transition alone. Moses goes a step further. Rashi, quoting the words, “He saw their burdens”, explains that “He set his eyes and mind to share in their distress”. Moses had not only left his comfort zone, he was also totally set on being emotionally available to a stranger being dealt with unjustly.
To grow and mature as a human being, one must first and foremost have the ability to fully empathise with another human being. This is the primary metrics by which we should measure our personal growth and development. It is not easy, but it is simple. We all have the potential. As the Mystics teach us “there is a spark of Moses embedded in each and everyone of us”.