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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

The Talmud relates that the great sage Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria was asked to assume the leadership of the Sanhedrin - The Jewish Supreme Court. Although he was fully qualified and had all the necessary credentials, he was reluctant to accept, as he was only eighteen at the time. With Divine intervention, overnight he miraculously developed features of an older person and began to look like he was seventy years of age.

The mystics explain that this transformation was not only external or superficial but rather a reflection of his true inner spiritual age. Rabbi Elazar's soul had been here before. He was a reincarnation of the great prophet Samuel who passed away at the young age of fifty two. His eighteen years combined with Samuel's fifty-two made him seventy.

There is a powerful message in this story. When we are faced with important responsibilities, encounter new challenges, or are asked to show leadership and inspire others we often lack confidence and believe we do not have what it takes to achieve and grow. But the sources teach us that all our souls have been here before. Our lack of experience and very limited personality are not a true reflection of our abilities. We carry the inspiration and positive energy of those that came before us. We might be small but we are like midgets that sit on the shoulders of giants. We are able to operate with the strength, inspiration and energy of all those that carried our souls in previous generations.

Our passport age is great for proof of identity when applying for a home loan, but when assessing our potential to achieve greatness, we should remember our true age.

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