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Chukat: The Danger of Letting Others Define You

How well do you know yourself?

To what extent are you letting other people define you?

Why are you afraid to find out the truth about who you really are?

The obvious starting point to any journey in life is to know who you are. This is even more important than knowing where you are. Yes, human being are highly complex and subjective creatures. However, self-knowledge should certainly be a primary aspiration for anyone seeking success and happiness in life.

What about our identity as Jews? What does it mean to be a Jew? How do non-Jews define us? Does it matter?

One of the reasons it is vital to know ourselves is because if we don’t, we run the risk of letting others define us. This is particularly true with regard to Jewish identity. Many Jews, through no fault of their own, have so little knowledge about “what” is a Jew? This is one of the reasons why many Jews are so obsessed with Anti-Semitism.

The name of this week’s Torah portion is “Chukat” which means “statute”. This word is etymologically related with the word “Chakikah” which means “engrave”. The first Lubavitcher derives a profound insight from this association. This connection teaches us that the words of Torah are in fact embedded onto our souls in the same way as words become one with the stone upon which they are engraved.

The Torah is in fact G-d’s blueprint which he used to create the world. The Jewish people are partners who he has invited to take an equity share in this endeavour.

It is our privilege and responsibility to bring those plans to fruition. We can only do so by abiding by that original blueprint.

These timeless values which G-d has so graciously shared with us are not foreign or abstract. They are in fact embedded into our souls. They are our “genetic code”.

Embracing these values does not represent a departure from ourselves and the attainment of happiness and fulfilment. On the contrary, they are the best tools for self-discovery and all the good that follows.

In an age of profound uncertainty, this blueprint has never been more valuable.

Spiritually. Mentally. Emotionally and physically.


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