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Do You Believe in Yourself?

Do You Believe in Yourself?


Early in my journey toward observant Jewish life, I had a dream about meeting the Rebbe. I brought to that encounter all my pain and vulnerability from having been sexually abused at the age of three. I looked into his eyes, and in that moment, I saw all that could have been if I had had a different childhood, all the potential for the ways I could have grown and developed, all my gifts and talents. . . and I realized that none of it was lost, it was all still there in potential. This dream had a powerful transformative effect on every aspect of my life, especially on the work I do with women survivors of abuse and trauma.

Fast-forward 20 years. Recently, my husband and I had a rare chance to go out for a meal alone. We discussed how it is such a gift to have someone who believes in you, in your integrity and capacity to do good things in the world. This is something I feel my husband and I intrinsically have for each other, although we might sometimes take it for granted, and might not always express it or realize how truly invaluable it is.

I started reflecting on how this concept might help us enrich our daily life and connections with others, with the deepest part of ourselves and with that which is beyond us.

G‑d, our Creator, is the ultimate believer in each one of us, and our intrinsic potential to effect good in the world. He chose our bodies and souls in a perfect match such that no soul in a body that ever was before, or ever will be again, has the particular mission of our soul in our body in the healing of the world.

Chassidic teaching tells us that G‑d’s first thought of each of us was that actualized potential, even before the world itself was created.1 Therefore, from G‑d’s perspective, a perspective beyond space and time, no doubt exists that we can and will fully be who we are meant to be in the deepest possible way. The strong belief that a true tzadik (saintly individual) has in each of us comes from this same deep place, as I experienced in my dream so powerfully.

So even if we feel there is not one person in the world who believes in us, or is there to strengthen our wholeness, there is a deeper source of strength and faith we can access. But my blessing to each of us is that we should all have such close and meaningful connections down here in this world as well.

How can we draw down and use these concepts in everyday life?

1. Access Your Inner Faith

Do you believe in yourself the way G‑d does in you, in your inner worth, capacity for growth, and ability to effect positive change in the world and those around you? Actually, this belief is already a part of us, part of our wiring. We do not have to build it up from scratch. Just realizing it is there is the beginning of accessing it.

2. Support Your Wholeness

Are you putting yourself in environments and choosing to be around people who support and strengthen your wholeness? If you are in relationship with someone who does not appear to believe in you, you may need to encourage this person to express his or her support verbally to you, thereby deepening and nourishing your connection.

If the other person truly does not believe in you, or actively devalues you, perhaps past unresolved hurts or misunderstandings, either within the relationship or from earlier times, might be constraining the development of trust. With help, this might be fully resolved. However, if there is abuse of power physically, sexually, emotionally or spiritually, safety issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

3. Support the Wholeness of Others

Are you relating to others in such a way that they feel your strong belief in their worthiness?

Believing in someone means you believe that he or she has a good heart, unique gifts and talents, and the potential to actualize them in a meaningful way. It means that you trust that the other person will use those talents and gifts to help and strengthen the connection between you, not the opposite, G‑d forbid.

Believing in someone does not negate the need in any healthy relationship to be able to challenge and disagree, or compare and contrast viewpoints. To believe in someone does not mean that he or she has to think exactly as you do. It also does not negate the need for clear boundaries.

We are told there are 600,000 core Jewish souls, that each is subdivided into 600,000 offshoots, and that each of our souls is a spark of one of those core souls. Kabbalah teaches that for any level of Torah, there are 600,000 possible valid viewpoints, corresponding to the source of our souls.2 This provides such a richness in perspective, if we are able to respect each other enough to hear and explore their viewpoints and the context in which they have been developed.

Imagine what our world would be like if we all looked at each other with the same faith, belief in our deepest potential, and encouragement as I experienced in that dream of the Rebbe. How this would transform families and communities . . . How this would encourage us all to actualize our potential by connecting to G‑d and lighting up the world with His mitzvahs . . .

May each and every interaction in our hearts, our homes, our relationships and with the broader world be permeated with such warmth, vision, light and truth.

See also Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 1:4.
Shaar haGilgulim, hakdamah 17.
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Rabbi Shmary Brownstein For July 13, 2015

To Evangeline The Kabbalistic teaching regarding 600,000 souls relates specifically to the "souls of Israel." These are considered to be part of one soul-tree, and they are interrelated. This number is derived from the number the Torah gives for the Israelites who left Egypt at the Exodus. However, it is cited here only as a model, while the concept of the indispensability of any individual is true for non-Jew as it is for Jew. G-d created no one or nothing superfluous in the world.

Our Torah teaches that there is a path for the righteous gentile, called the Seven Noahide Laws. Through living in accordance with these laws, a non-Jew is worthy of a share in the World to Come. You can read about these here: Reply

Evangeline Virginia June 30, 2015

Thank you. Must one become a Jew to be one of the souls you mentioned? If not, what is the standing of a Gentile's soul to G-d? Reply

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