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Scared Triplets!

Thursday, 6 February, 2020 - 9:06 pm

I recently noticed that whenever our triplets walk from the bedroom to the hallway they make sure to step over the threshold. Never on it. And once I noticed, I couldn’t un-notice it! It’s cute the way they avoid it, but I felt compelled to find out why.

I watched them toddle through every other doorway in the house with no qualms. It was only this particular threshold that they painstakingly avoided. But this week, I finally discovered the reason: residual fear!

A few months ago, there was a tiny nail sticking out of the floor right in that spot, which we discovered when they stepped on it and hurt themselves. That doorway now instinctively reminds them of that experience, and they automatically step over it.

Even when I try to coax them to step on the floor there, knowing the nail is long gone and they will not hurt themselves, they still avoid it. It’s a reminder of the past they cannot yet overcome.

It made me think of this week’s Torah portion, when the Jews find themselves facing the Red Sea after G-d virtually decimated their Egyptian captors with the 10 plagues. Finally free, they now found their path forward blocked by the Red Sea, with the Egyptians hot on their tail. They were trapped and afraid, divided as to how to proceed. Some wanted to die by drowning in the sea, some others preferred to return to Egypt in surrender. Still others wanted to try to fight the Egyptians, while another group felt they should drop everything and pray for Divine salvation.

To all these groups, G-d said, “Move forward!” Don’t give up, don’t be distracted by a fight, and don’t return to Egypt; just march ahead.

And that’s something we can all apply to our own lives anytime we’re afraid (which is pretty often for most of us!). Perhaps we’re afraid of committing to marriage, jumping into a new job, opening a business, having another child, taking on a religious commitment… It’s normal to feel afraid, and almost always the fear is based on a prior negative experience that is imprinted on our psyche and tries to prevent us from forging ahead.

But that’s exactly what G-d wants us to do. Go! Overcome your fears. March forward. Push past those negative experiences and take a chance. Commit. You’ll be surprised to see just how much you can accomplish when you learn to let go of the fear. 

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