Each and every one of us has a unique array of character traits – ways of conducting ourselves that are part of our identity. Please take a moment now to see which of the following describe you:
adventurous / analytical / anxious / boastful / caring / cold / compassionate / courageous / curious / daring / disorganized / disrespectful / efficient / envious / friendly / funny / grumpy / indecisive / lazy / listening / loud / meticulous / neat / organized / passive / perfectionist / pleasure-seeking / quiet / respectful / serious / shy / spiritual / sympathetic / thoughtful / utilitarian / unemotional / worrying / youthful / yielding / zealous
You may be surprised to learn that there is a pasuk in this week’s parashah that, according to Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l, connects to this list: Be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d (Devarim…).
Rav Kotler sees in this pasuk a directive to avoid contradictions in our personality and character traits. Almost every trait in the list above has a time and place where it can and should be applied. Too often, though, some of these traits elude us when we need them most. Nothing created by G-d is bad, including the seemingly negative traits. How we decide to develop and apply each one of our traits is up to us.
Just to give a few examples of what we are referring to: A husband or wife whose is clearly sensitive to his or her parents, should also use this trait vis-à-vis their spouse. A man who is energetic when it comes to going out on Saturday night should show that same energy when it comes to learning on Shabbat afternoon. A funny person should use that trait to laugh at himself when feeling slighted unintentionally. An analytical person should be analyzing his or her own behavior. A friendly personality should be at least as friendly with his own family as with outsiders. An anxious person should be anxious about getting to shul on time and eating only in restaurants with the top standard of kashrut. A loud person should raise his voice against evil, and the quiet fellow should remain quiet when his spouse spills out her aggravation or frustration at him. A pleasure-seeker should figure how to give pleasure to the poor, and a perfectionist should find out how to make himself the best person he can be.
This is just a small sampling of the possible ways we can work on being “wholehearted” with HaShem – an especially timely pursuit now before Rosh HaShanah.