Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In Judaism you are required to make mistakes. You actually have to err in order to fulfill the mitzvah of teshuvah. Teshuvah can only happen after we mess up. We are humans, not machines, and therefore perfection is not required of us. After all, perfection is a lie. Perfection drives anxiety and falsehood. But mistakes are valuable, and the core of developing real self-esteem.

I remember the first time I heard that failure creates courage. I was confused; I thought success made a person confident.


Until I actually experienced it.

I was once giving a talk, and I bombed. I traveled home that night feeling pretty crummy about myself. The next day came, and nothing major happened. Life moved on. It’s not just that I got over it; the situation actually helped my self-esteem.

I spoke the following week to a large group, and as I stood before them, this sense of calm washed over me because I realized I didn’t have to be perfect. I can make mistakes, and it’s ok. That is when courage really blossoms. Failure enables you to accept yourself in your most raw and vulnerable place, and that’s priceless. Success is great, but it creates this standard of perfection that a person is not good or worthy unless she succeeds. We don’t want to rely on success, or anything outside ourselves, for our courage. All you truly need is you. Mistakes are the greatest gift G-d gave to mankind. Appreciate them, learn from them, and enjoy the confidence they ultimately bring.


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Sarah Pachter is a motivational speaker, columnist, kallah teacher, dating coach, and the author of "Is it Ever Enough?" (published by Feldheim) and "Small Choices Big Changes" (published by Targum Press). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and five children.