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Unleashing the Gift
Creativity is difficult to define, but it is the one character trait that sets gifted and talented people apart from the rest. Experts have come up with three factors to define creativity: 1) Flow, meaning the ability to come up with multiple solutions to a given problem. 2) Flexibility – being able to approach a problem from many different directions. 3) Originality – a unique style of thought that cannot be anticipated or easily repeated.

A new study on education for the gifted and talented conducted by the education faculty at University of Haifa found that the first two factors in creativity can be improved through education and training. However, the third factor, originality, is not amenable to change. You either have it or you don’t. Lead researcher Professor Roza Lakein says, “Originality is a trait that you’re born with. The ability to develop it is very limited.”

This research generates more questions than answers. Is our ability to think at all, and in particular to think “outside the box,” really that limited? Or perhaps we all have it, but have some kind of block that prevents us from accessing it? What does the Torah have to say about mental blocks? According to Torah, is creativity something you either possess or you don’t?

In this case the answer is an unequivocal NO. There is no essential block on our intelligence and creativity. On the contrary – all of us have within us infinite potential that allows us to overcome any challenge and withstand any pressure. Regardless of the puzzles that life places in our way, we can solve them and find a way above them. In the words of Rabbi Shmuel Schneerson, the fourth Rebbe of Chabad, “The world says, if you cannot go around [an obstacle] then go above it. But I say, l’chatchila ariber. From the outset, go above it!”

According to Chassidic philosophy, the world is a very clever illusion, designed to keep us from directly sensing or experiencing G-dliness. G-d created the world this way deliberately. He wants to give us the challenge as well as the joy of discovering Him through our own efforts – a constant creative struggle to see the world beyond the surface.

And once we make that breakthrough, we tap in to an endless well of creative potential, because we connect ourselves with the essence of G-d Himself, the Creator of all, the ultimate source of creativity. The power that we unleash within ourselves is transformative and allows us to live life with dignity, courage, passion and joy.

Sound unrealistic? The good news is that the day is soon approaching when all mental blocks will be broken. G-d will finally choose to remove all concealments and allow us to perceive Him directly. And then all of us, without difficulty, will be able to access the boundless creativity that we have within.

 

 


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