The Acronym for Shame by Chaya Parkoff

I hope you had a wonderful Shabbat. I know that those of you who attended or all of The Women’s Experience Shabbaton with Chaya Lester had an inspiring and joy filled experience.

There is something so special about women coming together to sing, dance and be inspired.

I was debating whether to write something about this week’s Torah portion, Shemot, or to write about something that has been on my mind. I decided on the latter.

Last week I heard a powerful acronym for SHAME.

Should Have Already Mastered Everything

Do any of you ever feel this way? I know I do.

When a baby is learning to walk, and takes a few steps and then stumbles and falls, everyone claps, celebrating the progress. No one says “how come you haven’t mastered this yet?”

However when it comes to our own growth, we often don’t give ourselves that grace. And, although I try very hard not to do this,  I know I have also been guilty of putting unrealistic expectations on my loved ones. So not only do we often shame ourselves by expecting mastery, but we can shame others as well. (This being human thing can be really annoying sometimes, right?!)

The study of Torah itself gives us the message that we are not expected to master everything, but instead, there is an endless well of growth that we are privy to. For example, the Daf Yomi movement (people study a page of Talmud every day- all over the world everyone is on the same page)  is in its 14th cycle of a seven year and five month process! Why do people learn it over and over and over again? The goal is not to master the Torah, but to continue to study and learn it, so that we can get deeper and deeper insights. One thing I have learned over the last 30+ years of learning Torah, and especially over the last ten years learning from two incredibly brilliant female Torah educators, is that if there is something in the Torah that rubs me the wrong way, that is an invitation to look deeper. Torah is multidimensional, and no matter what you already know, there is always a new experience awaiting us.Perhaps the title of the book by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin sums it up perfectly: Growth Through Torah.

Ladies, life is not about mastery, it’s about growth.

Rather than shaming ourselves for not having “gotten it” (whatever “it” is) already, we can instead cheer ourselves and each other on.

Have a great week!