Soul searching is a very difficult thing for us to do. We often avoid it and instead we plunge ourselves into very bad habits…We feed our egos and lie and manipulate to gain power over others. We strike out defensively and shame and embarrass people who stand in our way and don’t deserve it. When we put people down to raise ourselves up we are actually lowering ourselves.

We wrestle with our demons but if we are honest with ourselves we might not be OK with our behavior and we might be wounded but we can hold our heads high and go forward.

In the Jewish tradition there are no quick and easy ways to do right by others. We have to first ask forgiveness from those we have hurt. We have a custom where we go to our family and friends on the Holy Days and say…if anything I have done over the past year has caused you pain, whether deliberately or unintentionally , I am truly sorry.

And putting this on Facebook or Tweeting doesn’t cut it.

We have our broken pieces, side by side, with our stronger selves. @TheRunningRabbi (Click to Tweet!)

We can’t just expect the Infinite One to take our burdens away. We can give these failings up, release them, liberate ourselves, by being willing and doing the work and be truly willing to change.

There is a saying, “Pray as if everything depends on the divine, but act as if everything depends on you.” The truth is that there are times when we fall, but the Wise Ones tell us that we are not required to complete the work, but we cannot evade it. We don’t have to be perfect!

Rabbi Harold Kushner said it best: “When we do something wrong, because we are human and our choices are so complicated and temptations so strong, we don’t lose our humanity. But we lose our integrity, our wholeness, of being the same person all the time.

We create a situation where part of us, our good self, is at war with another part of us, our weak and selfish self. We lose the focus, the singleness of purpose, that enables us to do the things that matter to us. That is when we need the gift of forgiveness. But should we ever conclude that there is no point in trying to be better because we can never be good enough, that is when we lose everything.

Being human can never mean being perfect, but it should always mean struggling to be as good as we can and never letting our failures be a reason for giving up the struggle.”

Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, a four time cancer survivor, is a motivational/inspirational speaker on the theme NEVER GIVE UP! He authored “Why Me? Why Anyone?” which chronicles his rescue from leukemia and his spiritual triumph over despair. Known as “The Running Rabbi” for competing in the NY Marathon, he received the “Award of Courage” from President Ronald Reagan in a White House ceremony. Rabbi Jaffe was one of the clergy who visited the American hostages in Iran to offer them comfort and hope and was asked by the President to greet them at the White House upon their return. He received an honorary Doctorate from his seminary for “his work with the sick, and his noble influence upon all people. You can follow him on FB.

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