Responsibility – #BlogElul 28


Taking responsibility has got to be one of the hardest lessons we ever learn. It’s what the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is really about – taking on adult responsibilities, even if in our modern society they are “only” ritual ones, and we don’t really expect a 13 year-old to be responsible for their own life. It is the beginning, though – the secular world recognises that – at least here in Manitoba, a child aged 12 and up can be charged with a criminal offence, implying that they can recognise and take responsibility for their actions.
To be treated as an adult, though, a person must have turned 18 or even 21 in some jurisdictions. The law then attributes full responsibility for the person’s actions to them, and they can no longer hide behind their parents or somewhere else.

But how many people really take full responsibility for their choices in life? How many blame circumstance, their boss, their mother, whatever it is? Heck, this trend started with our first parents, Adam and Eve (Genesis, Chapter 3):

יב  וַיֹּאמֶר, הָאָדָם:  הָאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה עִמָּדִי, הִוא נָתְנָה-לִּי מִן-הָעֵץ וָאֹכֵל. 12 And the man said: ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’
יג  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לָאִשָּׁה, מַה-זֹּאת עָשִׂית; וַתֹּאמֶר, הָאִשָּׁה, הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי, וָאֹכֵל. 13 And the LORD God said unto the woman: ‘What is this thou hast done?’ And the woman said: ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat

It’s hard to stand up and say, I choose. But as we go into the final Shabbat before Rosh HaShanah, here’s a thought I’d love to leave with you. It’s a very famous quote from the author Marianne Williamson, but none the worse for having been bandied about the Internet.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. 

If we can take responsibility for who we are, we can be powerful without measure in healing the world.

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