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Walk Off A Cliff

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Philosophy » Free Choice | Subscribe | What is RSS?


There he stands at the edge of a cliff. He is a lifeless form with an expression of fear on his face and a blank look in his eyes. A crowd gathers. Some watch from a distance in total shock, while others gather nearby to try and dissuade him. He jumps... You shudder and turn you head as a tear rolls down your cheek. You hope that “He” is never you.

There he stands at the edge of a cliff. He is an invigorated being with an expression of joy on his face and a look of excitement in his eyes. A crowd gathers. Some watch from a distance in total amazement, while others gather nearby to offer support and encouragement. He jumps... you smile as he soars high into the sky. How you wish that you were “He”.

We are “He” many times; the question is merely which one. In life there are numerous cliff edges that are totally beyond our control. What we do control, however, is the decision whether we will fall or we will fly.

As we leave our homes and begin life on our own, life some times seems like the edge of a cliff; after all we must take a step, and often many steps, into the unknown. As odd as it may seem, nature has it that we like to go to the edge of this cliff. We are happy and look forward to leaving our homes, our norms and our “solid ground” to walk up to the edge of the cliff. It is only when we get to the edge that we realize where we stand.

Personally, I have been at the edge of the cliff numerous times in my own life... I was forced to take the bold step
Perhaps you are beyond that cliff, or you never took that path in the first place. Maybe your cliff has a different face. In your existence life is too “normal,” too routine, and so boring. You crave the challenge. Inside you there is a yearning for the cliff’s edge.

Ok, you are not the type. You never walked to, or looked for, the cliff. But the cliff’s edge is looking you right in the face right now. You were pushed to the cliff’s edge by a particular incident in your personal life, or a global event brought to your attention.

Or you are someone to whom the cliff is all you know. You feel like the world in its present state is a cliff’s edge, not leaving you much of a choice for your next ‘step’.

Personally, I have been at the edge of the cliff numerous times in my own life. I might not have seen it in those terms, but “a bad day”, “between a rock and a hard spot”, “catch 22”, “Murphy’s law”, “no way out”, or simply “fed up with the way it is” I was forced to take the bold step.

I don’t know which “He” was me. I probably switched between the two. After all I can’t say I never fell, but if I am still here to tell the tale I must have flown as well.

Lately on a trip up Highway 1, I discovered a secret. To my amazement a man walked right off the edge of the cliff, and believe it or not began to fly; first over the beaches, then over the ocean. He didn’t fall. He turned back and flew higher, this time way above the tree top covered mountains. Defying gravity, he flew so smoothly... thanks to the guidance of a small glider.

It hit me! Not the glider, but the idea. The difference between flight and fright, between defiance and defeat, was a glider: wings beyond yourself that carry you through.


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Inspiring Article

Posted by: Mark Richman, Baltimore, MD on Jan 29, 2006

I found this article very inspiring. I was on a low this morning and I logged onto the Internet hoping to find some direction. I stumbled acorss this incredicble website - and this article was right on.

I feel much better about myself now. Thank you

comment on article

Posted by: Esta, Huntington Beach, CA on Jan 30, 2006

I was at a low this morning and I am afraid I still am. I am really at the end of the cliff and I don't think I can fly.

I need to speak to a rabbi for some advice and some prayers.

Re: this article and others

Posted by: Anonymous, Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Feb 10, 2006

Dear Ask Moses:

I recently had more time to read more articles and am inspired by what Lubavitch does. It makes me proud to be Jewish and proud to be affiliated with Lubavitch.


Mitzvot » Should I do them?

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.