Are You Exhausted or Unmotivated?

Friday, 15 July, 2022 - 12:34 pm

Does this happen to you as it happens to me? At times I will consider making a commitment to learn something or do something Jewish that requires significant effort. It may be something that means getting up real early or staying up later than usual. Perhaps it is something that pushes me to the limit of my intellectual capacity, or out of my comfort zone in some other way. As I consider it, I will often conclude that I am too exhausted to undertake this commitment. I don’t have the head or the emotional capacity to take the plunge. Am I exhausted or unmotivated?

However, I notice that when the same effort is required for something else in life, be it recreational, professional, or the like, those same considerations don’t seem to be as disturbing. All of a sudden, the exhaustion is a non-factor.

The Torah highlights two figures who “rose early in the morning” and saddled their own donkey to take an important journey. What moves an important personage to push himself beyond his normal limits, even engaging in a task that is beneath his station? Avraham displays commitment and enthusiasm to fulfill the will of G-d (at the Akeidah). The sages comment that love for Hashem motivated him go above and beyond reasonable expectation. Bilaam displays commitment and enthusiasm to engage in his favorite pastimes, hating Jews and amassing wealth. The sages comment that his hatred of Jews and love of money motivated him to go above and beyond reasonable expectation.  

Now let’s bring this back to my opening scenario. What would I need to be more like Avraham and less like Bilaam? I would need to change my value system so that my love of Hashem and enthusiasm for Judaism is as strong as my desire for material gain and pleasure.

As we strengthen our values, we will find ourselves with more motivation for the things that are truly important.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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