I know several people who, recently, went to Eretz Yisroel, in order to be in Chevron for Shabbos Parshas Chayay Soro. Many people make the trip, and leave their families for a week, in order to become connected with our Avos and Emohos and, ultimately, with Hashem.
Many of those who went are repeat travelers, who also go to Meron on Lag B’omer, Umon on Rosh Hashono, Eretz Yisroel for Succos, and make several trips to Europe for Yartzeits of various Rebbes. Their willingness to uproot themselves is the result of their desire to grow by being closer to Hashem.
Despite their sacrifice, there’s always been something that bothered me about these pilgrims, and I recently realized what it was. While their actions are worthy of praise, there’s another, more desirable, step, that they could’ve taken to get closer to Hashem, which would’ve allowed them to stay at home.
Many people believe that belonging to a group, or traveling to a place with a group of likeminded people, will be sufficient to define and, transform them, into people who are growing. Going with a small number of sincere, and focused, people, whose goal isn’t traveling, but the traveling is, only, a small part of their “investment”, will help them get closer to Hashem. They Daven, learn, and visit Gedolim for the entire trip. They bring little food and luxuries with them, don’t rent expensive cars, or apartments, and don’t leave much time for personal needs.
However, there are others, who go with groups of friends, to expensive restaurants, , create “social scenes”, and their days, and meals, resemble those that they enjoy in the comfort of their homes. While the difference between staying home, and going to Chevron could have been meaningful, the difference is minimal.
Those people described in the previous paragraph, are limiting their efforts to get closer, and internalize, their special closeness to Hashem, by “becoming”, and joining, the wrong type of group. They place effort in getting to Chevron, but don’t place any effort into spirituality once they get to Chevron, or any other spiritual destination. The difference in the amount of effort needed to belong to a group, versus the amount needed to actually become closer to Hashem, is significant. Many people don’t appreciate the difference between the correct way to serve Hashem, and doing the superficial, minimum, amount.
Here’s an example: I speak to many “spouses/parents” who insist that “this title” alone, is enough of a reason for their spouse/child to respect them, even if they don’t act the “part”. They’re unwilling to act like fathers/mothers, or husbands/wives, should act. They believe that since they have the title, they should be treated accordingly.
Their spouse/children, understandably, are unwilling to accept that the title is a license to demand respect and obedience. Being fathers/mothers isn’t sufficient reason to be treated as such, without doing/behaving as they should.
For many people, going to Chevron is a status, and a title of sort. Status and titles, alone, lack the substance to help people grow. Growth requires work. Instead of traveling with expensive wines, these people should’ve stayed home, extracted something valuable from Soro Emainu’s life, and emulated it, for that Shabbos or, even better, for the rest of their lives.
When people “insist” that their actions help them grow spiritually, but don’t have a need to “enjoy” the process, they’re “doing”. When people don’t place enough effort to grow spiritually, but are satisfied with following the “process”, they’re “becoming”. “Doing” has at least two advantages: 1) People that “do”, focus on what they can do. They’re more “low key”, and aren’t concerned with attracting attention. People that “become”, concentrate on themselves and, also, expect others to focus on them, by telling them how special they are, for what they’ve done.
2) There are two types of individuals, those who choose to be, and those who choose to do. Although, the difference in the quality of these two types is subtle, and often unnoticed, it’s the difference between achieving, or not achieving, the goal. The difference will be noticed by an employer, but not the employee; by the Rebbi, but not the student; the parent, but not the child; and by Hashem, but not the people. The employer, Rebbi, parent, Hashem represent invested observers.
These invested observers are primarily concerned with the end product, and not by how it’s achieved, although Hashem is also concerned with the sincerity invested in the process. Nevertheless, the end product is indicative of the effort placed into the process, whether it’s for a profitable business deal, a positive test score, a completed favor, or a perfectly performed Mitzvoh. The observer may not notice the difference during the process, but will definitely notice the quantifiable difference between the end product (the business profit, grade score, etc.) of those who “become” and those who “do”.
Even when the people (employees, students, children) acknowledge the inferior end product, they still believe that it wasn’t their fault, since they “felt” so good for “being”, although they didn’t place any effort into “doing”. Those that “become” can’t imagine that the good feeling of “being” isn’t the same as “doing”.
Defining personal success, or levels of religiosity, based on “being” can cause multiple misconceptions. Those who join a group may believe that they’re “doing”, but they’re only “being”. Other people will recognize their lack of effort, and growth, and how they haven’t changed, even though they had “fun” going on “holy” trips. When observers see what happened and it’s different from what people who “became” saw, This’ll cause conflict between them, and, between them and Hashem. For example, I believe I properly cleaned a room. My wife thinks I didn’t pay attention to the necessary details to do it properly. I believe I did my best to do a Mitzvoh. Hashem knows that I lacked the proper attention when I did it. I was “being” but I wasn’t “doing” a Mitzvoh. The difference between a person who was “being” or “doing”, is one of absolute truth. When the difference is between two people, the truth may lie in the middle, as people may be half “doers”. When the difference is between how people perceive themselves, and how Hashem sees them, the truth is that the people are wrong.
When people think that they’re “doing”, when they’re only “being”, they, often, never “figure out” their mistake (whatever job, test, favor, or Mitzvoh they did), and can’t change. They wonder why life isn’t going as they expected it would, and why others don’t respect them as much as they should. While I suggested that the difference between being, and doing, is subtle and often unnoticed, those people who are real “doers”, and aren’t concerned with “being”, tend to be noticed. Look, for, and find such people. You’ll notice that they’re happy, focused, accomplished, and the exact type of people that everyone wants to be. Then, become one of them.