Born this Way
I don’t understand this concept of working on myself to make myself better, a different person than I am. I like who I am, what I am. As Lady Gaga’s song goes, “I was born this way!” Or in rabbi-talk, “G-d made me as I am”. If so, why should I change what He willed?
Pardon me for saying this, but from a Torah perspective, what you’re saying is a bit “gaga”.
The reason is because, since you’re talking about personality and not physique, even Lady Gaga would agree that
Therefore, as far as who we are (and not how we look), the only aspect in which we may say “I was born this way”, is regarding free-will. Or in “rabbi-talk”, meaning from the Torah point of view, it would actually be more correct to say “G-d made me able to make myself”.
In fact, the Rambam (Hilchot De’ot 1:4) writes that there are three main factors which create any attribute: 1. Being born with the trait as one’s nature; 2. Having a natural pre-disposition for the trait; 3. Acquiring, or being conditioned to acquire, the trait.
Take for example anger. One may be born with an ingrained angry temperament which naturally results in the person being easily angered. Another person may not be “naturally” angry, but he may nevertheless be pre-disposed more than others, or be inclined, to get angry. Yet a third person might not be “naturally” nor “inclined” to be angry, but may nevertheless choose to acquire the trait of anger for any particular reason — for example to intimidate others in order to get what he wants.
However, regardless of the cause in all of the above cases,
Even positive traits are not to be accepted “as is” simply because they were implanted within us by
So, far from accepting ourselves as we are, the Torah approach is to first recognize who we are at any given time, understand how we got to be that way, and to use our free-will to bring ourselves in line with the way