P Plate Inspiration
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Rabbi, I don't mean to be nosy but I couldn't help noticing that you are driving a car with P plates. Did you just learn to drive? Are they yours or were they left there by one of your teenage children?
It's a bit embarrassing but I have to be honest - they are mine. I only began driving a few years ago. But now that you ask, allow me to share with you a lesson I learned from the whole experience.
For many years I was a little afraid of driving and just found it difficult to take the plunge. I became more and more used to being driven around, my wife was resigned to lift-giving and the taxi company welcomed the business.
For the last few years I have been teaching a Thursday morning class on character development and personal growth. One of recurring themes of these sessions is the importance of doing things that we are not used to. True growth can only take place when we are ready to go beyond our comfort level. Real improvement means to forgive even when it is hard, to mend relationships even when it is challenging and to do a mitzvah or an act of kindness even when it interferes with our routine.
When I realised that the participants were excited by the message and were taking steps to apply it to their personal lives, I was truly inspired. But it occurred to me that just lecturing to others was not enough. I had to do the same as well and identify areas of true growth and opportunities to go beyond my own comfort level. One of the obvious ones was to stop inconveniencing everyone around me and learn to drive. So thanks to my Thursday morning students I finally took the plunge.
But I also discovered something else in the process. The best way to be inspired is to inspire others. Our sages teach us that we learn from our students more than from anyone else. When we are excited about something we should share it with others. When we learn something new we should not keep it to ourselves. The more we inspire each other, the more we will grow.
So thanks for asking. I hope you didn't mind the long answer, with a little bit of P plate inspiration.