Years ago I was in the Holy city of Jerusalem, Israel to visit and learn from a man whose books I’d been studying for several years.
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s writings are a combination of ancient Biblical wisdom and modern day personal development. While some of his 20 books are geared to a Jewish readership, many are applicable to anyone and everyone who simply desires to have a happier, more fulfilled and peaceful life.
His smaller books with titles such as, Kindness, Patience, Happiness, Serenity and Self-Confidence provide both methodology and real-life stories and examples designed to help the reader accomplish those specific goals.
We spent many hours in formal, valuable learning sessions. However, it was during an outside walk that I got to see the essence and character of the man, and why I so admire him.
While engaged in conversation, Rabbi Pliskin stubbed his toe. He stubbed it badly. Upon seeing his facial expression I knew he’d really hurt himself.
Almost immediately, however, he embraced the experience.
“This is good” he said, his face still contorted with pain. “It’s excellent practice for me to learn how to…” and he went on to explain what he would practice. His face seemed to transform back into a countenance of serenity.
The reason I ended his statement with an ellipses rather than sharing exactly what he was going to practice is because — being that this was a long time ago — I don’t actually remember what it was.
And, as you know, that wasn’t the most important part, anyway.
The huge lesson for me was seeing his authentic nature playing itself out in total congruency. Much of his teaching focuses upon the lessons we are constantly being taught by our Creator — often through our dealings with others. Or even, as it turns out, through a rock upon which we might badly stub our toe.
Seeing him immediately go into learning mode — despite the excruciating physical pain he was experiencing — provided me with one more hero to model when similar “ouchies”, be they physical, mental or spiritual would occur to me. I can’t tell you how often throughout the years since I’ve benefited from his example that day.
Yes, there are those who teach one thing and do another. There are also those who both practice what they preach…and preach what they practice.
Any examples of people like Rabbi Pliskin who come to mind for you?
We’ve set up an open Facebook group, “Go-Giver Ambassadors.” We post a daily shot of inspiration — a quote from the one of the books. Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/GoGiverAmbassadors/ and join us. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’ll start your day off right!
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This is a good lesson. It’s often difficult to search for the personal growth opportunity in the midst of pain. But those hardships, and how we choose to respond, shape who we become; for better or worse.
Trevor: Thank you for your feedback. What a terrific point!
Good post Bob. I think Monty Campbell (www.montycampbell.com) comes to mind. He has a blog about achieving financial freedom. But instead of telling people that they can get rich quick like other related blogs, he tells the truth – that it takes hard work and that they can get the tools for financial freedom right at their local library. He strikes me as someone who is authentic and practices what he preaches.
Robert: Thank you! And, thank you for sharing about Monty!
Love this post, Bob. Sounds like Rabbi Pliskin was an incredible teacher and this story really illustrates that. The man who can say “This is good” after stubbing his toe is seriously walking his talk. It’s what I endeavor to do, although I probably succeed about 51% of the time, which is way better than 49%, right? 😀
Linda: Indeed, he is truly an amazing human being. A wonderful teacher and human being. I know that my years of studying his works has benefited my greatly. And, 51% is much better than 49%. And I know you well enough to know that the percentage will continue to grow.
Oooo, my toes are curling. Personally, being more aware of ‘receiving’ pain or otherwise, has been an all-out focus of mine this year. I’ve come a long way from the screaming pangs of labor and delivery, scaring my husband into believing he married satan as I cursed at him with evil eyes that “This will never happen again!!” (-Says she who ended up having 6 children.) But during this conscious awareness I find myself reflecting back to my youth and observing the expressions of my father during his trials. Countless fingers were pounded and sliced with tools as he remodeled our home, endless hours in freezing weather fixing cars -even the patience of trying to connect with someone in the world on his HAM radio (for goodness sake, pick up the phone already!) With every ‘ouch’ or testing of his patience, he would look over to me, widen his eyes, hold his breath, and then plaster a funny smile so I would laugh. He’s been gone for many years, but he taught me a world of wisdom. The more years that pass, the more I seem to listen and learn.
Tamilyn: Thank you. Beautifully said, and an excellent tribute to your Dad who was obviously a very wonderful man! As for your pain in giving birth (6 times!) I’ve never understood how women could even do that once. Can’t even imagine. I have deep admiration and absolute awe and gratitude for all of you!!
A good anecdote illustrating two truths- Everything that happens to us, happens for us. And, the universe is set up as a teaching machine-everything in it is designed to advance us.
Ken: Thank you. Great point! I guess one of the keys to a successful life is working on ourselves, and growing ourselves to the point where we are better able to understand and work successfully within those truths. Thanks again!
Love the wisdom in this post Bob, and the learning to be gained from Rabbi Pliskin’s approach – every single person I encounter teaches me something, although sometimes how NOT to respond to something! Respect to Rabbi Pliskin for demonstrating how to transcend the human plane of pain and to learn from it. So grateful for the way you enrich our world Bob.
Tara: Thank you for your very kind comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. You beautifully described a very valuable lesson I learned from the Rabbi that day!
Yes, I love this approach! We need more examples like the Rabbi’s. I’m in need of inspiration as I’m trying to be happier, be in the present, and savor what I have more. Thank you Bob for sharing!
Maria: Thank you for your kind feedback. I wish you the very best of happiness…always!