Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes that every Jew has a unique way to serve G-d (Likutey Moharan I:34). For example, the Talmud (Ta’anis 21b) tells the story of Abba Umanah, who would receive a greeting from heaven each day. Abaye, who was one of the greatest Torah scholars of that generation, also received such a greeting, but only once a week. When he heard about Abba Umanah, Abaye was a bit sad. However, people explained to him, “It is because you cannot do what Abba does.” That is, even though Abba Umanah was certainly not as great as Abaye, he had nonetheless fulfilled his own potential. He was the best doctor that he could be. And even if Abaye had tried to imitate Abba’s actions, he still would not have been successful; for then, he would not have been Doctor Abba, and he would not have been Abaye. Each person must traverse the unique path that G-d has set for them. If they seek to travel someone else’s path, they will not only fail, they will also lose their own way as well.

Sometimes, the motivation to grow spiritually comes from our respect for someone else – a tzaddik, a talmid chocham, or the like. But this can also be a mistake if we seek to imitate a leader of this stature.

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We don’t need to look elsewhere to find the means to improve ourselves. Everything we need is right at home. Every day, from morning to night, we encounter challenges that are tailor made just for us. If we can accept them with faith and humility, and struggle with them as best as we can, we will be blessed in this world and the next. We don’t have to look for things about which we were not commanded, only to accept with love that which is already ours, for in this lies the path that G-d has intended for our souls.

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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at nathanlrossman@gmail.com.