Permission to Shine

In Ki Tisa, this week’s Torah portion, we read about Moses ascending Sinai and getting the Ten Commandments. It is hard to imagine anything more inspiring than being on hand for Moses receiving the Torah. But, alas we see that this did not work for the Israelites. While Moses was up getting the Tablets, they grew impatient and made a Golden Calf for themselves. If the Israelites lost their passion and commitment so soon after experiencing the miracles of the plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the victorious war with Amalek, how could we today have any hope of staying on mission?

After the resolution of the Golden Calf incident Moses returned to the people with a new set of Tablets. While the first set were made by God, this time Moses made them himself. In addition at the end of Torah portion we read:

33 And when Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But when Moses went in before the Lord that God might speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out; and spoke unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. 35 And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face sent forth beams; and Moses put the veil back upon his face, until he went in to speak with God.

This is the origin of the Michelangelo‘s depiction of Moses with horns of light. It is clearly also the source of why some people believed that Jews had horns. This is all secondary to the notion that this outpouring of light from Moses helped the Israelites see that their leader was inspired. We need our leaders to be inspired to be inspiring. There is something to the DIY ethos. We all need to have a sense of ownership in a project to be invested in its outcome. Where as in the first set of Tablets it was all about God, in the second set God had Moses and therefore the people’s buy-in.

Recently I was talking with Michael Wax an Assistant Director of Beber Camp about how he might inspire his staff to move the needle on what is an already a very good program at his camp. In my mind we need to find more ways to share our vision so that others share a sense of ownership. When we allow people to own their work they radiate their passion and joy. This attitude itself is infectious. This reminds me of one of my favorite poems, Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson. We read:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Moses’s beaming face gave permission for the Israelites to let themselves shine too. It seems that if we really want to move the needle we need to figure out how to let ourselves and those around us shine.

– Also posted at FJC’s Campfire

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