Fear is often seen as a weakness in our society. We perceive it as something we need to eradicate completely from our beings in order to be fulfilled, but you may be surprised that some of the most wise and righteous people in the history—the tzadikim— lived in fear.
The fear that haunted them: “Maybe I’m not doing enough.”
It’s the only thing that really frightens a truly spiritual person. It is written in Proverbs, “Joyous will be the man who is always afraid” because he knows that he has to work to receive the Light. The wicked, however, are neither fearful nor courageous; they’re simply indifferent.
By today’s standards however, having an air of indifference or seeming unaffected can be hailed as a quality of strength in an individual – an interesting play on what is real strength and what is weakness.
This teaches us that those on a spiritual path may appear weaker than those who are not, namely because they are not concerned with looking strong to anyone else. They just want to do the right thing! A righteous person will act with righteousness at all costs – even if it humiliates them, even if it makes them look like the lowliest person in the room!
My father, Rav Berg’s, teacher Rav Brandwein once told him: “When we come to the world of truth, we are asked to name the greatest accomplishment of our lives. Sometimes, people say, ‘Everybody loved me.’ But those people are deeply in error. They are saying that they did nothing in their lives except what others wanted them to do, and whatever that may have been, they were willing to do it.” We must learn to act always in accordance with the Light, even if the true nature of our actions may not be apparent to others.
Many of us try to live as if we were running for political office. To get as many votes as possible, we say only those things that we think others want to hear. So we should take ourselves “out of the running.”
We put so much energy into looking amazing, we forget to just go be amazing.
It’s time to start being less afraid of how we look to others and more concerned with if we’re doing all that we can.