I recently read the biography of Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky, who was a truly amazing and inspiring woman. I don’t usually connect to biographies of great Rabbis and Rebbetzins, because, for whatever reason, they tend to be written in an overly simplistic manner. Along these lines:
So-and-so was born to this amazing family with these amazing attributes, and they never ever ever sinned and were always happy and always put others before themselves and were never resentful about anything the end.
In a way, it reminds me of the expression “when I was your age, I walked to school uphill both ways. In the snow. While shoeless.”
It’s so far removed from my life that I just don’t relate. While reading this biography, I would come across passages where the Rebbetzin would exhibit a staggering level of consideration for the feelings of others. I would turn to my husband and remark, “I’m no Rebbetzin Kanievsky.”
While there was the typically generous use of the words “always” and “never,” this biography did share some facets of the Rebbetzin’s life which she found challenging (not seeing her parents as much as she would have liked, for instance). It also conveyed the tremendous capacity for Ahavas Yisrael, love for all Jews, that the Rebbetzin was well-known for. I’m no Rebbetzin Kanievsky in that area, either.
But that’s okay. Despite the disconnect, I was struck that after reading this account of this extraordinary woman’s life, I was actually inspired to improve my level of Jewish observance.
It’s okay that I’m not just like Rebbetzin Kanievsky, because Hashem doesn’t want me to be Rebbetzin Kanievsky. He doesn’t want you to be, either. We’re just supposed to be the best versions of ourselves.
So I decided that instead of focusing on the gaping chasm between Rebbetzin Kanievsky and myself, I would try to have at least one Rebbetzin Kanievsky moment a day. One moment where I would:
- make my husband’s learning more of a priority
- try to truly empathize with another Jew
- see the best in any scenario
- have more patience for my children
- make a bracha with concentration
- say a little Tehillim
- think about the tremendous amount of blessing in my life.
My new theme song is now this:
Be. All that you can be. Get an edge on life, with Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky.
Well, close enough. You get the idea.
Have you ever read a biography that moved you to make a change?
Sometimes I remember to include other posts you might enjoy. Today is one of those days.