Could You Do This At Sixteen?

Today, I’d like to introduce you to the person who inspired me to live a life of meaning, and taught me all of what I know to be foundational in logotherapy: my late grandfather, Rabbi Reuven Bulka.

When my great-grandfather, the Rabbi of a community in the Bronx, suffered a major heart attack, their world was turned upside down. He was ordered to rest for six months, a typical treatment plan at the time. The shul where he served as a Rabbi could not afford to hire a replacement, and the community faced a difficult decision.

My grandfather, at the young age of sixteen, found himself faced with an unexpected challenge. With no one else available to step in, he was drafted into service to lead the congregation during his father's recovery. Despite his young age and lack of formal training, Rabbi Bulka willingly took on the responsibility.

At first, he was nervous and uncertain, feeling the weight of his father's shoes to fill. However, he soon found his footing, dedicating himself wholeheartedly to the congregation. Leading services and delivering sermons, he surprised the community with his eloquence and deep sense of connection with the members.

The congregants were understanding and supportive, recognizing his dedication and commitment. Rabbi Bulka managed to create an environment of unity and continued spiritual growth during his father's absence. The congregation flourished under his leadership, and his father's pride in his son's abilities knew no bounds.

Even after his father recovered and returned to the pulpit, my grandfather continued to assist, dividing his time between leading services in the old synagogue and helping his father build the new one in a safer neighborhood. This sacrifice exemplified his dedication to his father and his community's well-being.

So what does this have to do with you?

Actionable Step 1: Embrace Challenges

Approach challenges with an open mind. Instead of shying away from difficult situations, see them as opportunities for growth and self-discovery. Embrace the tasks that come your way, knowing that they can lead you towards your life's purpose.

Actionable Step 2: Discover Through Service

Look for opportunities to serve others. Engaging in acts of kindness and compassion can bring a profound sense of meaning and fulfillment. Volunteer in your community or support those in need, and you may find a deeper understanding of your life's purpose through that service.

Actionable Step 3: Find Fulfillment in Purposeful Action

Reflect on your daily duties and responsibilities. Seek to understand how your actions align with your values and what truly matters to you. By aligning your actions with your beliefs and values, you can find greater fulfillment and meaning in your everyday life.

Actionable Step 4: Focus Outwards - Dereflection

Practice dereflection, a logotherapeutic technique that focuses on others rather than oneself. When faced with challenges or moments of uncertainty, redirect your attention to how you can bring joy and positivity to the lives of others. Ironically, this selfless approach can lead to a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Embrace these actionable steps to infuse your life with deeper meaning and purpose. Remember, life's purpose often reveals itself through unexpected channels, guiding us towards the path we should pursue. Embrace each day's demands with an open heart, and you will soon find out what you are truly meant to be.

About the author

Rikki Ash

Coach, Master of Science, MS

Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning -Viktor Frankl

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