Oprah and Zusya: Living Our Purpose
If you haven’t seen Oprah’s Master Class episodes where she suggests that a person view his or her life as “a classroom” you must find a way to view them. Here is a quote from the series: “Everybody’s life has a pattern…That’s really how you get to determine what your purpose is…If you don’t know your purpose, your immediate goal is to figure that out, ‘cuz otherwise you are just wandering around here…How do you know what is your purpose? (It’s when you are doing something and) It feels like, ‘this is what I should be doing…this is where I feel most myself…I feel at home here….’”
Our tradition believes that in addition to being made in the image of God, each person is created with a unique configuration that only she or he can be, or fulfill. In the Talmud, the rabbis proclaim that God imprints us each individually at birth – no two of us are alike. We can even see the tradition of Shabbat as a time that implores us to slow down enough, each week, to listen to the voice inside us that asks, “Am I living my unique purpose?” “Am I bringing all of who I am to the worlds I inhabit?” and “Am I moving in the direction I want to go, or am I wandering in the desert?”
Do you know the Hasidic story about Reb Zusya? When he was about to die, his followers gathered around him and noticed that he was crying. They asked, “Why are you crying? You have lived a good, pious life.” He told them that he just had a vision of the question he would be asked when he entered the world to come. He said, “I won’t be asked, Zusya, why weren’t you more like Moses, or Abraham? But I will be asked – why weren’t you Zusya? That’s why I’m crying. Why was I not Zusya?”
In a few weeks, we will sit at our Passover seders and remember the story where Moses is confronted by a burning bush that spoke to him and said: “Go free our people.” A hard-to-ignore sign, and a profound, God-given purpose, all rolled into one moment. He said yes. And here we are.
Not all of us get such a clear message. Instead, many of us have to listen to the still small voice inside of us that urges us to pay attention to what makes our hearts sing. The voice that is a “yes” when we live in alignment with who we uniquely are and do what are supposed to be doing.
The question to ask ourselves: “Am I living my purpose?” And in asking the question and listening closely for the answer, we find ourselves coming one step closer to our own promised land.
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
(link to Oprah’s Master Class: http://www.oprah.com/own-master-class-the-lessons/master-class-the-lessons-home.html )