David Levin-Kruss

The Wimp

I can’t say I like the word “wimp.” It’s a derogatory term that means scared, weak or cowardly ( yet Max insisted on calling himself a wimp and somewhere, deep inside, I agreed. Max was born into a wealthy family. He said he was “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” and when asked from which side of the family (mother or father) he said “both!” He had been educated from a young boy to work in the family business and he was finding it “okay” – not terrible but not great and certainly not inspiring. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to be doing but it wasn’t this. However, it made no difference what Max felt. He was too scared to leave the business. Scared he could not earn a living on his own. Scared his family would be upset.

As you may know, I use interactive study of texts (chevruta) to help people come to personal breakthroughs. The text that Max brought was from Carl Jung – “Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk. Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” We discussed what Max’s unlived life might be but he was too afraid to put his longings into words. Even to say what he wanted opened him up to having to admit failure.

Next time I decided to bring the text (I do this sometimes though it is better if the client chooses their own passages). I shared a little known incident from Genesis (26:18-22) when Isaac re-digs his fathers’ wells.

Isaac has been banished from Avimelech’s domain. Isaac’s first act is to do exactly what his father did – dig wells and give them the same names his father did. His servants then dig new wells but there is contention with other shepherds and the wells are given very passive-aggressive names (Challenge and Accusation). Finally, Isaac moves away and digs a completely new well (not one his father had dug) and digs it himself (not via his servants). Only then is there no quarrel and only then is there a feeling of belonging. He calls the place Rechovot (Wide Spaces).

Through reading this Max realized he needed to move away and do something himself. We did a lot of fun brainstorming of Max’s favorite fictional characters and historical figures and what they would have most liked to do and the exercise enabled Max to see himself in these individuals and have an inkling of what his future may hold.

And he left the family business and opened a wellness center and is now a famous healer with his own line of health foods. Except that’s not what happened. Max could not break the attachment to the business and to his family. He could not get over his fear. What he could do was re-define his position at the business to one that used his skills and interests better. He developed hobbies and volunteering projects that expressed his different interests. He is much, much happier and I am much, much humbler having been reminded that it is not for me to determine or decide my clients’ future but to facilitate them getting to their Wide Spaces in their own way.

About the Author
Rabbi David Levin-Kruss (DLK) has twenty years of experience working with people at critical junctures in their lives. He is on the faculty of the Pardes Institute where he also runs special programs and serves as a life coach for students seeking direction. Previously he directed the overseas department of the Melitz Centers for Jewish Zionist Education and before that he was the community director and family educator at Stanmore Synagogue in north-west London.