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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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The Uncomfortable Side of Outreach

Yonatan Gordon

Yonatan Gordon
Photo Credit: YouTube

Last week I decided to leave one social media group for another. The decision didn’t come easy, but I felt that the people in the second group were more in need of my help. Even though the new group is filled with problematic content, I decided that for the sake of benefiting others it was worth the challenge of dodging through these obstacles. Soon after, thank God, I was able to help someone who was bothered by an unanswered question for over forty years. All because I did the uncomfortable and signed up.

This article is for the daring ones who cling steadfastly to the outside of the train as it plummets down the hill. While I don’t recommend this lifestyle for everyone, I found these daily volleys and tumbles during outreach to be immensely rewarding.

A few years back a friend unknowingly gave me a deeply appreciated compliment. At the time, we were both struggling to find desired outreach positions. Thank God, he is now a prominent outreach director, and I now work at the job that I prayed over ten years for. But at the time we were both in-between, which is a nice way of saying we had no idea what we were going to do next. The compliment he said was that he has met many idealists, but he appreciated that I consistently endeavored to act on my idealism.

While I have made many mistakes along the way, thank God, I have witnessed the realization of many dreams because of a willingness to do the uncomfortable. In business, they call this “taking risks,” which is okay terminology as long as the proper intentions are there. For instance, if left to my comfort zone, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. But when presented with an opportunity to help others, then my own feelings and sentiments got bumped in line.

This was discussed in brief when speaking about Anne Frank. Originally she penned the diary for herself (writing is very therapeutic). But when she realized that her story could benefit others, she starting going back and changing the names to protect identities.

But sometimes we push too far, too fast, and God sends us clear messages to slow down. Once I reserved a table to sell Kabbalah books at a new age expo, hoping to infuse holiness in dark surroundings. The day before I got laryngitis and couldn’t attend. This was the first time that I remember having laryngitis.

Also not every road is worth traveling, and I have taken plenty of wrong turns over the years. But while there are plenty of places not worth going near, as mentioned at the beginning, there are also countless golden opportunities.

Once while making rounds offering Kabbalah books to new age stores, I saw plenty of “not worth going near” things. For instance at one store, people were lining up to receive elixirs, potions, who knows what other forbidden practices according to Torah, from this one worker there. This was essentially the entire store … people walked in and got in line. I stood behind this worker, waiting for him to acknowledge me and in short-time he did. When he took a look at the books he grew fearful and apologetic. He explained that they had so few books in the store, and as it is people don’t buy the present ones they have. Although he didn’t take the books, his demeanor was starkly different from that of the potion dispenser. Such is the potency of the holy light of Torah.

Taking risks for outreach is not easy and there have been spiritual pitfalls over the years. But notwithstanding the difficulties, learning to press forward amidst obstacles has also been greatly rewarding.

When I thought of writing this article a few days ago, I wasn’t going to source it anywhere. I had viewed it more as a personal essay, and since people seem to like personal essays, I was going to leave it like that. But just prior to writing, I read the English transcript of Rabbi Ginsburgh’s recent class at David’s Tomb, and the lengthy description there about King David’s service of God. There’s a lot there, but allow me to quote one section that stood out for me:

“David’s is constantly engaged in helping the every Jew attain a level of purity so that he or she can connect with the Almighty, even in times when they are not worthy. This requires self‐sacrifice on David’s part, just as much as going to war does.”

Reading this transcript was a further confirmation about the validity of the approach that I am now presenting. Knowing that instead of listening to this article, you could read about King David and come to the same conclusion yourself, was most affirming for me. That for the sake of benefiting another, we should each be willing to venture forward and do the uncomfortable.

Personal Appeal: I began a campaign for a Kabbalah of Business book that has the potential to change the lives of many, but I need your support to make it a reality. Please donate $18, 36, by clicking on the campaign page.

About the Author: Yonatan Gordon has spent most of his past 13 professional years in the world of Jewish publishing. He was the Marketing Manager at Kehot Publication Society (publishing arm of Chabad) for the better part of six years. He is founder of the website Community of Readers.


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2 Responses to “The Uncomfortable Side of Outreach”

  1. is that the picture of what so called ultra orthodox jews?

  2. Bless his heart, will pray for him to be safe…

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