One day you’re on top of your game and the next you’re not. It can happen to anyone. All of a sudden the simple day to day tasks that must be done loom as gigantic obstacles. You’re overwhelmed with self-pity and hopelessness. You are your most important asset and you’re letting yourself down.
Watch how one of history’s greatest men, Moses, overcame this challenge.
Only three months after God miraculously took the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses discovered them worshipping a golden calf. He punished the people, then begged God for forgiveness on their behalf. (Exodus 32)
As a real leader, Moses cared deeply about the children of Israel. Though the Israelites grumbled about him, he continually advocated on their behalf. They complained about water and Moses prayed to God. (Exodus 15:24-25)
Later, when they complained of hunger, Moses again interceded on their behalf. Even his expressions of anger were in order to educate them and improve their behavior. (Exodus 16:20)
Moses fully engaged with his people. He constantly sought to provide whatever they needed while caring for them, teaching them and guiding them.
About a year after these events, a year during which God sustained the Israelites with the daily ration of miraculous manna, the people again complained. (Numbers 11:4-6)
This time, instead of engaging with Israel, correcting their behavior and asking God to solve their problem, Moses seems overwhelmed by the challenge.
Moses said to God, ‘Why have you afflicted your servant? Why have I not found favor in your eyes, that you place the burden of this entire people upon me?’ ‘…From where should I get meat to give to this entire people…’ ‘I am not able to carry this entire people alone, because it is too heavy for me. If this is how you deal with me, then kill me now…let me not see my failure.’
God assures Moses that the next day He would supply more meat than the people could eat. Instead of joyously conveying this to his people, Moses doubtfully asks how God could supply enough meat for so many. (Numbers 11:21-22)
Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that Moses suffered a temporary crisis of confidence. In a lapse from his customary assertive leadership, he felt weak and hopeless. Unsure of himself, he even momentarily doubted God’s power to help him! Yet we know that he recovered because he successfully led Israel for another 38 years.
How did Moses rise above his negative mood? By acting in exactly the opposite way to how he felt. The main characteristic of pessimism is feeling small and inadequate to the challenges facing us. When we are insecure, we tend towards pettiness. Yet, only a few verses further in Numbers 26-29, we meet two interlopers named Eldad and Medad who threaten Moses’ position. Even Joshua pleaded with Moses to destroy them. Yet Moses rose above the annoyance of these two men and reacted with bigness. Rather than resenting them, he judged them favorably. His magnanimity banished the depressed feeling and he returned to his usual strength.
In the same way, each of us can help ourselves when what Winston Churchill called his “Black Dog” strikes us. The remedy is to act in a way that enlarges us. Rather than acting small because we feel small, we can behave in a way that indicates greatness. Our feelings will rise to match our actions.
While everyone has emotional setbacks, the severity is lessened when we are confident in who we are. If we aren’t true to ourselves, we cannot lead others or ourselves with conviction. We are at a disadvantage among those who see Jews and Christians as ‘the enemy’, if we don’t fundamentally claim our heritage. The timeless truths I disclose in my 2 audio CD set, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam are both chilling and a source for optimism. They are spiritual weapons you need if you wish to feel optimism and confidence rather than depression and hopelessness when faced with implacable foes. Available at a reduced price this week, listen to this resource and join in leading our society towards a peaceful and productive future.
Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.
I am a single woman of 41, never had any serious relationship but always dreamed of love and never found it. I came to a new congregation and I fell deeply in admiration with my rabbi’s wisdom. We had some very insightful debates on Jewish issues, and he expressed that he considers me a very special and beautiful soul and mind.
Nonetheless, I feel he might also feel a deeper attraction for me, and I am very much afraid that my deep admiration for him might turn into something else. But he is married, of course. I know I should avoid any contact and flee from the possibility of sin, but at the same time, it is really hard for me to finally find such a light and have to withdraw from him because the want of each other’s light could go out of control (but also could not).
What should I do? READ MORE
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Wisconsin’s Window of Opportunity:
Last week’s exit polls were off by so much that throwing a dart while blindfolded might have more accurately predicted the results of Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin race. However, now that it is over, along with similar votes in San Jose and San Diego, CA that introduced balance into public sector union strong-arming, I would like to step back and take a broader perspective…READ MORE