One of my Shabbat pleasures is my walk to Shul. It also happens to be my weekly exercise... Just a little over a mile, 2/3 of it in the wilderness, also known as the Pinson Highway. I do a bad job maintaining my Highway, so this week my peaceful walk to Shul took me through over a foot of fresh snow. My walking partner had better boots so we decided that he will be the trail blazer. He walked ahead and imprinted his footsteps for me to follow. Every time I missed the exact footstep I got a little snow inside my boots. The snow melts, and my socks and feet get wet. Did I mention that the wind chill is below zero? Fahrenheit. So I focus on one thing, and one thing only: my boots should go in the exact spot of my friend's boot. After a few steps, I trip and fall. I try again, and I fall again. Soon I discover that we have different patterns of walking. Our legs have different lengths, and our feet different shapes. If I try to walk exactly his way, I will fail and fall.

As we engage in spiritual paths and journeys of recovery, we are told to follow in the footsteps of those who have preceded us. We are told not to reinvent the wheel. We are cautioned against following our own advice which got us to the unspiritual spot we are currently in. We are taught to look for role models and spiritual leaders to show us the way. But it's important to remember that we each have our own individual way of walking. We each have a personalized soul, and a different body. We each have to find and define our own individualized path to a relationship with G‑d. We must follow the guidelines of our leaders and teachers, but not get lost in the exact emulation of their personal journey. We use our own thoughts and our own emotions to tailor make a special and unique relationship between G‑d and ourselves. We do get snow in our boots, our socks get wet. It is definitely prone to hardships and mistakes. But it empowers us to create our own path. It protects us from failing and falling.

On my way home, as I walked the path back, I found out that my missteps created their own set of footsteps. Footsteps that others followed on their way to Shul. Footsteps that make it easier for me to walk back home.