It's Not All in the Packaging
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
In our modern society, achievement seems to be linked with external appearance. The more outgoing and louder someone is the more noticed they become. The more glitzy and glamorous something is the more successful and effective it is perceived to be. Success has become synonymous with external recognition. Quiet achievers and those that work discreetly seem to go unnoticed.
But making noise and generating lots of excitement does not always make a better person. Often people who create a whole commotion around their plans for improvement don't deliver the goods. They seem to place more importance on the impression they create than the improvement itself. Quiet, refined, unassuming behavior, is far more effective in the development of ones character than a lot of empty noise.
The Talmud says: Blessing does not rest upon something that is out in the open, but rather on something that is hidden from the eye.
Everything we do has two parts - the first is the goal and purpose and the second is the process and the means through which we achieve the final outcome. While the goal motivates the process, it is not always so apparent and open - the goal is more in the background driving the process from behind. What we say and do to achieve the goal is always the more obvious component.
The process is like the packaging around a precious gift. Packaging is important when it serves the gift by enhancing it and giving it greater expression. However when it is viewed as something independently important it loses its value.
Obsession with creating an impression, valuing glitziness, loudness and external success is like ignoring the gift in favor of the gift wrap. It emphasizes the process, and distracts us from the ultimate goal. Quiet, modest, refined behavior on the other hand, gives us the opportunity keep our focus on the real purpose of the experience. It allows the gift to be enhanced by the packaging, not to be overwhelmed by it.