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Greatness is a Habit

Friday, 12 January, 2018 - 1:13 pm

Wouldn’t you love to be a more positive, optimistic and joyful person?

Well you can and all it takes is practice.  

In this week’s Parsha, we read about the first seven plagues. Despite the harshness of these plagues, Pharaoh refuses to let the Jews go because “G-d had hardened his heart”.

But what happened to Pharaoh’s free choice? How could Pharaoh be punished for refusing to comply with G‑d’s demands to grant freedom to the Israelites, if G‑d Himself “hardened his heart”?

Nachmanadies explains that G-d’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart during the last five plagues was a result of Pharoh stubbornly hardening his own heart during the first five plagues.

In other words, Pharaoh had habituated himself to be stubborn and hardhearted. At this point, after years of a hardened heart, it had become his natural disposition, it was no longer his choice.

With today’s understanding of neuroplasticity, this is even easier to understand. Repeated behaviors create new neural pathways that then become natural and automatic. Due to Pharaoh’s decisions and habits he was now hardwired to be hardhearted.

Just as this is the case with bad habits such as stubbornness, so too it is with good habits.

Push yourself to act joyfully or think optimistically often enough and it will become second nature. You literally rewire your brain.

You will be good at what you practice. Practice worrying and you will be the best worrier, practice kindness and you will be the kindest person.

Greatness isn’t a gift, it’s habit 

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman 

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