In this week’s Torah portion (Balak), Bilaam asks G-d’s permission to curse the Jews and is denied. However, on Bilaam’s second request, G-d acquiesces. From here, the Talmud (Makkot 10b) derives G-d leads a person in the way he wants to go. Further, the Talmud (Sotah 47a) learns from Balak that a person should do good deeds even without proper intentions. Balak brought 42 offerings to G-d in hopes of cursing the Jews and from that act, he merited to be the progenitor of the Davidic Dynasty. Hashem guides and rewards us for the path we choose even if it is not fully congruent with our thought process.
We act how we feel and feel how we act
Very often our mood dictates our actions. When we are down we stay in bed longer and avoid pleasurable activities. If we are anxious we avoid social gatherings. When we are afraid of rejection we avoid being assertive and asking for a raise or promotion.
Fake it till you make it
However, Behavioral Therapy teaches the same lesson as this week’s Torah portion. Our actions dictate our future even when the activity is not sincere. If you force yourself to do things happy people do, you too will become happier. If you gather the strength to confidently ask for a raise, you will be perceived as competent and will likely be rewarded. As Leonard Cohen once said, “Act the way you want to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”