Stillness. Peace. Crickets chirping and a soft breeze. I feel my heart beat; I hear the leaves. I take a long sip of my Chai tea and relax deeper into my patio chair. These moments to myself during COVID are few, but necessary.

I gaze up at the clear black sky with thousands of silent diamonds staring back at me. “Is this how You had intended it all along?” I whisper.

ThisThis is your unconditional love G‑d, isn’t it? is your unconditional love G‑d, isn’t it? Deeply embedded right inside our very own hearts?

Is what I’m feeling the unwrapping of the most precious of gifts? A gift no money in the world could ever buy?

By now, I’m lying down. I close my eyes to allow these feelings to fully emerge.

Empty calendar. No program to plan for. Nowhere to travel. No guests to invite. This is so unusual for me, but it reflects what is happening to many of us during these times. Could this be the final Divine secret, unfolding itself before our very eyes? That You have been here all along, just waiting for us to be still enough to feel Your embrace?

Could it be that it was never Your voice inside me, shouting at me that I have not done enough today, that someone else’s need comes before my own emotional well-being, that the dozens of guests are priority despite my children’s need for attention? That I am only loved when I do? That Your love for me is conditional?

What’s Your voice then G‑d? I wait. Silence. I have recently learned how to be more patient.

And then I see it, right in front of my closed eyes. Wasn’t it just today that I told my students (over Zoom) that Mount Sinai was chosen to receive the Torah because of his humility and willingness to not engage in a competitive battle?

I passionately taught for more than an hour how although little, Sinai’s lesson is infinitely huge. This little mountain teaches us that it is not our job to look around at what others have and try to compete and compare. What our friends show off to us on social media, the competition has nothing to do with our own value and worth.

The only thing that matters, I practically shout, is that we are who we are meant to be. That we look inwards and not outwards. That we listen to our own soul! That we become our best selves.

TheThe world doesn’t need millions of clones world doesn’t need millions of clones. The Torah wants our individuality. G‑d needs you, your essence! If you don’t be you, who will? Only you can shine the light that is within you! But you cannot shine that light if you are busy comparing yourself and competing with others.

When we wake up each morning and say the Modeh Ani meditation, thanking G‑d for a brand-new day, we need to ask ourselves: What does the world need from me today? How can I use my natural, G‑d-given talents and passions to benefit others. What brings me meaning and joy, and how can I spread that light to the people around me?

I barely pause to catch a breath. Do we realize that who we are is enough—that we are loved by G‑d, as His child, even just for the very breath that we take? That all He asks of us is to show up each day and give it our best effort?

I open my eyes. I now understand. Thank you, G‑d. I hear you loud and clear. You have made me stop from the busy activity to realize in the stillness all Your love that is within.