We’ve come to expect instant results. Perhaps the speed of today’s latest “on demand” technology or the abundance of resources in our global community have trained us to feel this way, but it’s become natural to assume that most problems will be solved within 24 hours or less. This expectation obviously leads to disappointments, and we’re forced to learn the art of patience even when the answers seem but a click away.
One of the laws in the construction of the Holy Temple’s altar is that the ascent to the top must be upon a ramp and not a staircase “so that your nakedness will not be revealed on it” (Exodus 20:23). Unlike a staircase, a ramp’s incline is small and gradual, forcing a more gentle ascent for the Temple priest.
Personal growth follows the same pattern. When we’re inspired to change, we might expect a decision to change to be instantly transformational. Taking leaps and bounds towards the new behavior, we seem like new men. Then the “nakedness” is “revealed,” the surprising reality that change is not overnight, and we’re often discouraged and revert to the old habits. Often the result is that we become more deeply entrenched in our destructive patterns.
Inspiration to grow, to ascend the altar, is what starts the engine, but when going forward — beware of your speed limit!
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org