My son Meir recently started taking ice skating lessons at the Duluth heritage hockey center. He had never even laced up ice skates before, let alone played hockey. The first week he just held on to the wall for dear life as he circled the rink. But as the weeks progressed, he was comfortable getting out on the ice. But he kept falling and falling as he tried to skate. I thought he might rage quit and give up in frustration. But he kept going until he got it! Now he can skate a little and follow the instructor's directions. And next week, he will learn how to skate with a hockey stick! Quite an accomplishment from holding on to the wall.
Sometimes in life, we fail. We get up and try again, only to fall again. And sometimes, we begin to see ourselves as a failure and give up. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, in his magnum opus, the Tanya, says that whenever you have thoughts that suggest you're a failure, it's never coming from a good place. Self-reflection is constructive when you take the time to think about how to better yourself. But if you start thinking about your mistakes during the day, it can only bring you down. So let's keep getting up and progressing in our Torah observance. Let's drop religious or orthodox labels and focus on what's ahead, another opportunity to do a mitzvah.