In this week’s parsha we discuss the merit in knowing our true selves.

A man travels to a diamond-filled city to gather wealth. On his way out–his bags packed with diamonds–he stops to purchase a drink. But to his dismay the store owner refuses a diamond as payment: “Sorry sir,” he says, “the currency here is schmaltz–chicken fat.”

“But I don’t have any!” exclaims the man.

“Well then, you’d better go work and make some,” answers the store owner.

And so, the man works hard, earning load upon load of schmaltz, and quickly becoming the town millionaire.

Happy and satisfied, he proudly returns to his hometown with truckloads of chicken fat. Upon his arrival, he is overwhelmed by an onslaught of cries from the townspeople: “What a smell!” “Where are the diamonds?!” they ask.

As he opens his mouth to explain, he suddenly realizes his horrific mistake…

It’s a tale that’s as sorry as it is humorous: a man sets out to acquire precious diamonds, only to return with masses of useless chicken fat. Why, he could have taken but a couple of diamonds to begin with, and arrived home a happy man…but instead, he got caught up in the “schmaltz.”

Indeed, it is the unfortunate saga of the human being who has lost sight of his goal; regrettably so, a familiar reality in our world.

So how can we fortify ourselves to remain upright and focused, no matter the circumstances?

The answer lies in being proactive–in identifying who we are at the outset, regardless of our environment.

It’s like the salesman who never enters a sales room without first clearly defining his boundaries: what he won’t negotiate on, where he’ll bend, and to what extent he’ll allow the price to be challenged.

Living in an ever-changing universe, the necessity to define who we are and what we stand for is vital.

Although the “currency” of society may be erratic, we need to ensure that our principles and values remain unchanged–an approach that allows us to lead truly fulfilling and purposeful lives.

Let’s establish who we are at our core so that we don’t find ourselves caught up in a mission gone awry!