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Self Esteem at the core of Jewish identity

It’s easy to say that we’re all B’tselem Elokim (created in the image of G-d) but to feel it and to live it is a whole other story.

I feel that so often, the message we’re given is to find people who believe in us, to associate with people who believe in us and encourage us-and while I agree that surrounding ourselves with such company is very healthy-I think that we’re lacking in another very important message.

To believe utterly and completely in what you are able to do and to feel comfortable and confident with who you are.

In order to treat others with respect and dignity-we, ourselves have to feel that because we too are B’tselem Elokim, we deserve to be treated and treat others in that way.

It all starts from the inside.

The message we are so often given is still a message telling us that our self-esteem, comfort, and confidence are conditional-depending on our surroundings.

What the Torah says is quite opposite.

Image by Alysha Rosly via Unsplash

Dovid Hamelech is the prime example of someone with high self esteem-who had that esteem solely because he was able to trust so firmly in Hashem.

Tehillim, chapter 27 verse 3 reads; “Should an army besiege me, my heart would have no fear; should war beset me, still I would be confident.”

Even when his surroundings could have caused him to lose hope, his self esteem-which intertwined with his deep trust in Hashem helped him to continue to hold on.

Reb Tzaddok Hakohen of Lublin explains that “Just as a person has faith in Hashem, so too,  a person must have faith in themself.”

Rabbi Abraham Twerski, z”l adds that,

“I have been accused of having a one-track
mind, and I plead guilty as charged. I
have indeed said that with the exception
of those psychiatric disorders that are
of physiologic causation, e.g., bipolar
disorder, all psychological disorders are
due, at least in part, and sometimes
entirely, to low self-esteem.”

Our entire Avodat Hashem, our communal and private life alike, is affected by how much we believe in ourselves- the goodness of ourselves and our own capabilities.

The simple act of waking and davening to Hashem shows the belief in ourselves and that our words and our pleas can make a difference.

If we didn’t believe in ourselves-how could we believe that our voices reach Hakadosh Baruch Hu?

Self-image, self-esteem, and our avodat Hashem are deeply intertwined.

It’s time to start cultivating ours!

Image by Pawel Czerwinski via Unsplash
About the Author
Yiskah attended seminary in New York & Israel before moving back to the states. She currently teaches in early childhood education and is working toward a degree in Psychology and a certificate in Holocaust Education. She is a contributor to "Every Name Counts", "The World Memory Project" and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's project "History Unfolded" and has written articles for Refuat Hanefesh as well as others on the topics of mental health, Jewish identity and conversion/geirus.
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