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Yes and No

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

There are people who are considered "yes" people and there are some who are considered "no" people. "Yes" people are typically more agreeable and willing to experiment with something new, to take a plunge into the unknown, while "no" people are usually more risk averse and prefer to stick to a routine and stay within familiar territory.


Being a "yes" person certainly has its advantages, since life should be all about exploration and discovering new things. Being satisfied with your current state can be viewed as a negative, so seeking out new experiences is certainly beneficial.


But at the same time, not everyone that is a "no" person is necessarily stuck. Just because your personality doesn't lend itself to be comfortable with new things doesn't mean you can't still be accomplished, even if it is limited to your comfort zone. When you set your sights on achieving something, using all the tools at your disposal, including your personality, is how you will get it done.


The Talmud records two versions of events at Mt. Sinai when G-d gave the Jewish people the Torah and its commandments. One versions is that when when positive commandments (the "do's") were given, the Jews responded with "yes," i.e. "we will do it," and to the negative commandments (the "don'ts") they replied "no" — "we won't."


The other version is that for both the positive and the negative commandments, the response was a simple "yes!" The Jews accepted G-d's will without making a distinction between types of commandments.


These two versions represent two approaches to religious observance, and both can in fact be correct, depending on the individual and the circumstances.


Sometimes our commitment to Judaism requires us to ignore convention and just say "yes" to everything. Whether it's a do or a don't, be prepared to do exactly what G-d wants you to do. That also means ignoring limitations, both real and imagined, and just saying yes. This attitude is especially important for someone just starting to get used to a Torah observant lifestyle. Don't think twice, just jump in.


But that doesn't mean you should simply throw caution to the wind. There are rules within Torah that must be adhered to, and even the greatest "yes" person knows that following the specific rules is how Judaism is properly observed.


Then there are those that are already well along in their Jewish life, performing mitzvahs regularly and doing so with great commitment and alacrity. They find comfort in the familiar and don't need to jump into the unknown in order to discover the value of Torah. They can easily make the distinction between "yes" and "no" while still finding meaning all around, even in the "no," because that too comes from G-d. They are able to make the mundane meaningful without having to disrupt convention.


And yet, they too must be prepared at moments notice to go beyond their comforts when necessary. Familiarity is good, but when needed we must be ready and willing to make changes and enhancements. Even the most righteous Jew can always find ways to improve his or her observance, and acknowledging this is how we achieve a perfectly well-rounded Jewish life.


So whether you're a "yes" person or a "no" person, or somewhere in between, Judaism has a place for you and your personal growth. Wherever you stand in your religious journey, you too can have a personal relationship with G-d.

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