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One night this past summer, camp was graced with a performance by a professional balloonist/magician. He was not only spectacular, he was also very funny, and it was an all-around enjoyable show. Throughout the show, in between tricks and sometimes as part of his tricks, he would blow up balloons in various shapes and sizes and give them out to volunteers or cast them into the excited audience.

For his grand finale, he used an electrical blower to blow up a massive balloon. It was so large that the performer was able to fit his entire body into it. With his cordless microphone attached to his lapel we were able to hear his voice, and saw movement inside the balloon, but for a few seconds, we couldn’t see him at all.


Then he popped the balloon and re-emerged. Everyone clapped and cheered.

It was a funny scene because it was just part of an act, and it was over in a second. But upon reflection, on a certain level we all live inside our little balloon and because of that, we have a hard time seeing others from inside it. They hear our voices because we are confident enough to state our opinions and viewpoints, but we often don’t realize that we aren’t seeing the full picture because we are so full of our own hot air that surrounds us. It’s not helium that encapsulates us, but our egos.

A Jew once complained to the Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch that he was being disrespected by fellow congregants in shul. He felt that they literally stepped all over him.

The Rebbe gently replied, “Perhaps you have spread yourself out over the entire shul so that wherever anyone steps they have no choice but to step on you.”

The rule is that an ego that is too big is apt to be bumped and jostled by others.

It’s been said that EGO is an acronym for “Easing G-d Out.” Part of our challenge is that we have a hard time letting go. We feel that we are in control and that we need to maintain that sense of control. The reality is that this attitude only breeds anxiety and discomfort.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski recounts that someone once related to him that for years he worried about his business transactions all night and had a very hard time sleeping. Then he discovered that G-d doesn’t sleep. Once he realized that G-d was up anyway there was no use in both of them being awake, and he began to sleep more peacefully.

Every night we recite the verse “In your hand I entrust my spirit; You redeem me, Hashem, G-d of truth.” (Tehillim 31:6). We can only trust when we allow ourselves to emerge from our selfish bubble.

Perhaps our first step must be to pop the huge balloon that envelops us so that we can see beyond our own confines. Once we let out all that hot air, we will also be able to accept that we are all within the warm embrace of G-d.


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Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a popular speaker and author as well as a rebbe in Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ. He has recently begun seeing clients in private practice as part of the Rockland CBT group. For appointments and speaking engagements, contact 914-295-0115 or [email protected]. Archives of his writings can be found at