Go For It
I'm turning 40 this year. I feel like life is passing me by. When opportunities present themselves, I hesitate, and then it's too late. I don't want to be looking back 10 years from now and feeling regret. What do you say, rabbi?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Let me share with you a story from the Bible. After the Jews left Egypt, amidst the plagues and miracles, the entire Jewish nation reached the shores of the Red Sea. The chasing Egyptian chariots began thundering closer. The Jews were panicked. They were surrounded, with no logical way out. And then Nachshon stepped foot into the Sea. (The original "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.") The Sea split - and all the other Jews followed Nachshon into the dry riverbed.
Although every Jew passed through on dry land, the experience of Nachshon was qualitatively different. For Nachshon, the future had issued its challenge, and Nachshon confronted it head-on. The Torah (Exodus 14:22) describes his experience as "going into the water (first), then dry land, and the water formed a wall." Slavery was baggage he'd left behind. He was liberated, both body and soul.
The others, having entered only after the sea split, expressed disappointment in themselves for not having the bravery of Nachshon.
The Red Sea is a metaphor for our own lives as well. Ultimately, the story of our lives comes down to a few key moments of decision. These spell the difference between a life of achievement versus one of regret. Often we procrastinate until the best option no longer remains. The door is closed and we comfort ourselves by saying, "Oh well, what could I do, things just didn't work out."
If you are struggling with this, I suggest taking a few minutes to ask yourself:
- What negative situation am I perpetuating simply because I am not willing to make the effort to change?
- Why am I afraid to change?
- What is the worst thing that can possibly happen?
- What is holding me back from achieving my full potential?
- In 10 years from now, what decision will I regret not having made?
Sometimes the answer is just "do it." To jump into the sea.
Of course, we cannot always know what's waiting on the other side of the sea. But that's part of the beauty. It's our chance to become invigorated with the fullness of life. Just as with Nachshon, the feeling is liberating. Our self-esteem depends on it. And it is our only true option.