People with a special Jewish neshamah? Yes.
But perfected people? Nope. Not yet anyway.
Hidden sparks need to be released, whether by saying a heartfelt 3-second blessing over a cup of water or by converting with heartfelt kavanah to accept all the mitzvot of the Torah.
There are many other acts, both deceptively simple and unfathomably difficult, that release trapped sparks, leading to the tikkun of the entire Universe.
And while we have our exceptional people, and even tzaddikim, most of this all-encompassing tikkun is carried out by regular Jews.
Holy Jews, yes. But also flawed.
Ordinary People Committed to an Extraordinary Mission
And as stated above, it is mostly being accomplished by holy yet FLAWED people.
With so much to do & of such importance, some things fall by the wayside or short-cuts get taken.
In other words, normal Torah Jews juggle so much, they sometimes drop the ball.
And that is NORMAL.
We have to stop demonizing ourselves and others for dropping the ball.
Please note: Tzaddikim have perfected themselves to the point where they don't drop the ball. They don't take short-cuts.
B'ezrat Hashem, we'll all reach that level.
But until then, we can't nitpick at each other's imperfections & struggles as long as we're all trying.
People on ALL Levels Trying to Accomplish a Mind-Boggling Tikkun
And to do so demands a certain amount of organization & energy.
Some lucky people not only possess a natural ability to organize their lives & thrive on projects, they were also raised by parents who provided of good example of what ideal Shabbos preparations look like.
Others may possess the natural energy & ability to organize their lives & the an innate tendency to thrive on projects, but they never experienced the ideal example (whether because their family was always careening into Shabbat by the skin of their teeth or because they weren't raised with Shabbat).
Still others were raised to prepare for Shabbat in an ideal manner, yet they lack the innate energy & ability to organize, and they lack an enjoyment of projects and To-Do lists. So they technically know how, but it's a weekly challenge to get themselves to do it properly because their innate nature puts up resistance.
And still others lack both the energy & natural ability to organize, plus they feel stressed-out (rather than energized) by the tasks they face each week in honor of Shabbat. In addition, they have no rolemodel or positive conditioning for Shabbat-prep (again, either because their family didn't model organized preparations or because they didn't keep Shabbat).
So that last group has all the cards stacked against them.
Yet they too must prepare for & keep Shabbat.
And they too are a vital part of the necessary rectification.
Even if they careen into Shabbat in a disorganized, last-minute manner (which is not ideal), they are still participating in this all-important tikkun, with all its far-reaching rectifying ramifications.
As we all know: "Just one Shabbos and we'll all be free!"
If all Am Yisrael keeps one Shabbat, Mashiach will come.
(Shemot Rabbah 25:12, Yerushalmi Ta'anit 1:1)
This is true for the lovely, organized shomrei Shabbat and it is true for the disorganized, overwhelmed, and forgetful shomrei Shabbat.
Regardless of who you are & what you lack within you or without, you have been entrusted with the magnificent mission of rectifying the Universe through Shabbos.
Yes, even if you're not up to it and even if you keep stumbling around in it, you are still entrusted with this holy mission.
And we need to recognize this in each other too, even if we don't have those challenging issues.
Struggle Doesn't Make You Ugly
I think we've all noticed that different people excel at different mitzvot, while those same people really struggle with other mitzvot.
And different people struggle with different mitzvot for different reasons.
For example, some struggle with tsniut (dressing & behaving with dignity) due to a strong attraction toward the latest fashions and behaviors.
(Note: Tsnius applies to men too, but in a different way & less intensely than for women.)
Yet others struggle with tsnius because they can't be bothered with what feels like fussy details. These types may not give a whit about fashion, but they just want to be comfortable and get on with life. So it's genuinely hard for them to pay attention to whether their elbows, neckline, knees, and hair are covered just right.
Yet others just love tsnius and even look for extra measures to take on. They feel so good when their clothes, make-up (if they wear any), and behavior fit the standards of a Torah daughter of the King — even if by secular modern standards, they look quaint or frumpy.
But with the decreasing availability of tsnius clothes & shaitels, some women may be forced to take short-cuts. If the only tsnius shirt available is one with a less-than-flattering color or cut for her, then that's what she chooses.
Therefore, she may find it harder too look really good according to modern secular standards.
Because of this, she might have a less varied wardrobe too.
Many people don't like to hear this kind of thing.
It's common to say, "If it's really important, then you find the time/money/resources/motivation to do it."
People expect others (especially women) to jump through any & all hoops necessary just to achieve whatever they're expected to achieve in other people's minds.
And the expectations in all areas are very, very high.
But many people feel so overwhelmed that they're barely squeaking by emotionally and physically.
Yet they keep on trying their best.
And so you need to realize that Hashem finds them beautiful.
And if you're struggling to do it (even if you don't do it according to top standards), He finds you beautiful too.
She is not innately patient or calm or deliberate. Yet with her children and students, she does everything she can to be more patient, calm, and deliberate, and to be the mother or teacher they need.
Yet this means that in other social situations, she acts more impulsively, she speaks out more and with less tact, she can come off as a bit overbearing, and so on. Yet she was never mean at all. She's a very good-hearted person.
But it takes all her strength to hold everything together for her kids and her students; so with others, the cracks start forming and the flawed stuff leaks out.
Now, it goes without saying that she needs to work on her middot ALL the time, and not just with her children & students. And she seems to realize that.
But she needs to start somewhere, and at that time, her initial focus was on her children & her students. Hopefully, she would eventually spread her focus toward others.
So was she right or wrong?
Well, she was both right & wrong.
And that's NORMAL! She's a work-in-progress — just like we all are.
The fact is that she's doing a tremendous amount: She's granting a good foundation in Judaism to little Jewish girls, she's raising a large family, she lives in the constant stress of financial constraint, she needs to be a good wife to her husband, she needs to give tzedakah, keep Shabbat, keep on top of the kashrut of the kitchen, she needs to guard her tongue, and much, much more.
And it's a lot!
And so certain things fall by the wayside and balls get dropped.
And what's true for her is true for all of us until we reach a certain level.
Different People Drop Different Balls
So a Jew will constantly invest in many mitzvot, but may do at least one of the following:
- say blessings or daven without proper kavanah
- be forgetful
- speak in an abrupt or less than tactful manner (I'm not talking about abuse or nastiness)
- act hyper
- get frazzled & stressed-out
- eat too much
- eat the wrong foods (and not out of lack of funds to buy healthier foods)
- don't invest a great deal in their appearance
- spend too much
- spend too little
- talk too much
- misjudge situations
- act impulsively
- get trapped in indecision
- be kind of messy
- and much, much more.
And different people also hold different priorities about what they let slide.
You may not agree with them & I may not agree with them, and they may not agree with my or your priorities, but that's how it goes.
For example, people who tend to speak a bit too abruptly will tell you that they don't have the head-space or the patience to communicate differently. (Again, I'm not talking about people who enjoying shooting verbal barbs or hurting people.)
Often (though not always), they run their lives well and invest in good middot in other areas, but their communication style falls by the wayside as they feel overwhelmed by everything else.
It's said that such people "eat" their negative feelings.
Many people don't realize that Chazal discusses achilah (eating) as a middah, just as you would discuss the middah of kinah (envy), which can be used either negatively or positively.
Eating is no different than other middot work.
But she was completely trustworthy never to speak a word of lashon hara. And I saw her in challenging situations, the kind in which even very good people tend to fail.
She was amazing at guarding her tongue, whether regarding groups or individuals. She was also a very dedicated wife & mother. And she had an excellent work ethic.
All in all, she really meant to be a good person, and the areas which others found difficult were minor compared to her good points.
Including in the above examples, at some point, those people need to work on the communication style, their eating habits, and their hyperactivity.
Regardless of the fact that people need to work on all their middot, it's natural to still stumble in their weak points.
Some middot still fall by the wayside. (But hopefully, not for their whole life.)
Rectifying the Universe by the Skin of Your Teeth
And again, when you really think about it, it's funny that regular people are entrusted with this mission.
After all, we wouldn't send off an untrained soldier on a mission on which his whole country depends.
Look at America's Green Berets and all the training they must not only complete, but excel in before they are entrusted with their special missions.
Yet that's exactly the opposite of what Hashem does with us.
He sends us off on a life-long mission, sometimes with full resources, but just as often with very limited resources, and we need to develop the necessary resources along the way.
And we're supposed to continue this mission even when we're hungry, pregnant, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, exhausted, overworked, ill, or suffering allergies or migraines.
And we are supposed to achieve rectification of the Universe in this way.
Pretty heavy stuff.
Today, many people feel like they're shooting in the dark.
They're sliding into base just as the ball hits the baseman's glove.
There is so much information available today — yet so much of it is contradictory. (And this doesn't even begin to cover the heavy-duty self-promotion behind this information; even if the information is pretty good, it might still need some adjustments.)
Finding what works for you in your individual situation is a challenge.
So you drop the ball, you take a short-cut, you stumble, you careen, you let something fall by the wayside...
As long as you are trying to fulfill your God-given mission of rectifying the Universe via Torah & mitzvot, you are very beautiful in Hashem's Eyes.
And so are the other flawed people who are trying their best to uphold the Torah's commands.