By Laura Seymour
Please forgive me for sharing this “joke” from the internet:
A father said to his daughter, “You have graduated with honors. Here is a car that I bought many years ago. It is pretty old. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and see what they will offer you.” The daughter went and returned with the offer: “They offered me $1,000 because the car looks worn-out.” The father said, “Now, take it to the pawnshop.” The offer was only $100. The father told his daughter to go to a car club now and show them. Amazingly, the offer was $100,000 because “it’s an iconic car and sought by many collectors.” The father said to his daughter, “The right place values you the right way. If you are not valued, do not be angry; it means you are in the wrong place.”
Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value!
The Torah tells us at the beginning of creation that we were created “b’tzelem Elohim — in the image of G-d.” The message is clear — we are created with inherent value. Everyone is to be valued just for being. Often we search for the place or person who will see our value, but the important thing is to see within yourself that spark of creation and value. If you don’t value yourself, others will not see your value. Another, perhaps more important, message is for each of us to see the inherent value in others, not for what they can do but because they are!
Both of these understandings are hard sometimes as we question ourselves and as we look at others and judge them. Always remember that every person brings something unique and special to the world, and that happens at birth and goes throughout life. The Torah is filled with people who are definitely not perfect. Flaws are part of who we are, but that just gives us something to work on.
The month of Elul is coming — a time for reflection before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These days give us the opportunity to look and change. There is a Talmudic quote — “Repent the day before your death.” Sounds a little morbid, but on looking closely it is telling us that repentance is ongoing and it is never too soon (or too late) to make changes. More on this in Elul, but don’t wait to make changes and grow!
Laura Seymour is Jewish Experiential Learning director and Camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.