Friday, November 25, 2011

Thoughts on Parashat TOLDOT


Parashat Toldot (Toldot = Generations) tells us about the war between Yaakov and Esav. The struggle between Judaism (Yaakov) and it's arch - enemy Esav (other nations hating Jews). Amalek, a descendant of Esav turned out to be one of the greatest anti - Semites. 

In Judaism we follow the concept that each of the forefathers represented a particular attribute. So was Avraham very much into Chesed (kindness). He used to invite any stranger into his tent and feed him. The first perfect case of Jewish hospitality. 

Avraham's son Yitzchak represented Din (Judgment). Yitzchak wasn't the endless kind type but was judging people according to his ways. He didn't just invite everyone but, more or less, kept to his own circle.

Yitzchak's son Yaakov stood for Tiferet; a mixture of Chesed and Din at the same time. Kabbalistic literature is calling those three attributes "Sefirot", and G - d created our universe where Chesed and Din have to go in accordance with each other. There cannot be a world where a person only acts with endless kindness and another only with Din. A human being has to combine the two attributes to Tiferet where he sometimes acts with kindness and sometimes with judgment. Depending on the situation. 

Our forefather were three different personalities with different goals and tasks in life. As soon as I hear this I have to think of what the chassidic Rabbi Zusha of Hanipol (1718 – 1800), the brother of the famous Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, told his followers: 

Once Rabbi Zusha said to his students: "When I die and stand before the Almighty, G - d won't ask me - Zusha, why were you not like Avraham, Moshe or King David ? Instead He will ask me “Zusha, why were you not Zusha ?” 

Meaning that every human being has his own task in life as well as his individual potential. So, a Jew should concentrate on his own potential when fulfilling the Mitzvot. If he constantly looks over to his neighbours and becomes jealous of other Jews succeeding in being more frum or achieving all kinds of religious goals, he may loose track and give up. Even if one doesn't succeed in studying the whole Parasha this week or missed to pray a few times, he should always go according to his own pace and potential.  Sometimes it looks as if others succeed more in their religious lives than I do in my own but when you see the whole picture, we all were created differently. What we have to strive for is accepting our own G - dgiven task and potential.

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