“Just give them the wrong answers,” my lab partner whispered to me in the middle of a long, tedious experiment. It was my junior year in college, and the organic chemistry class was grueling. It was such a competitive environment that my lab partner, who had always seemed like a nice enough guy, wanted me to lie to the group beside us.
“No way, I’m not giving them the wrong answers. We should help them.”
He looked at me like I had landed from another planet. “Help them? Why? Do you want to be nice or do you want to be successful?”
I put down my notebook, looked him straight in the eyes and replied, “I want both.”
I thought about that moment recently as I was catching up with a friend of mine whose life has taken such a different path from mine. She was feeling lost and confused in a world that seems to blur the lines of morality more each day. Like my experience in college, it is hard today to believe that we can be kind and still be ambitious, that we can be truthful and still be successful, that we can fight for justice while still being compassionate.
We need to know that we can. It is difficult to remember that we are doing the right thing even when it seems like everyone else is doing something else.
I have the Torah to thank for giving me that clarity, that wisdom, that confidence to know that I can be both kind and successful. That I gained so much more by telling the truth than what I would have lost.
With Shavuot around the corner, I’ve been thinking how grateful I am for having the Torah in my life. The Torah teaches me about my ancestors and how to follow in their ways. It shows me how to keep trying every time I want to give up. It gives me the strength to face my own weaknesses. It has shown me what to look for in a spouse and gives me guidelines on how to create light in my home and to nurture my children with softness and warmth. Torah gives me the peace of Shabbos that crowns my week and renews my energy, and the wisdom to know when to step back and when to move forward.
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