“Hashem said to Abram, who was then living in Ur of the Chaldees, a cosmopolitan city of idol worshippers: “Go away from the land, from your relatives and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” So Abram left Ur and settled in Eretz Canaan where he was able to grow in the ways of Hashem. Yet, when it came time for Avraham to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak, he sent his servant, Eliezer , back to that idolatrous setting where he had grown up, saying “and you will take a wife for my son from my family and from my father’s house,” that is from the very place from which Avram had fled those many years before.
Avraham Aveinu’s spiritual journey continues to provide the road map for our journeys today. So there is a great lesson for us in these pesukim — a great formula for personal growth in the service of Hashem, When a person decides to relinquish his or her former lifestyle and lead a life of enhanced holiness, he or she remains vulnerable to the inducements of that original lifestyle for quite some time. This can create a serious impediment to his or her complete spiritual transformation.
After Avraham Avinu had successfully climbed up to the ‘mountain of Hashem’ and achieve a new level of understanding from that vantage point, he was able to infuse these ideals of purity and righteousness into his son Yitzchak. Though Avraham Aveinu did not himself return to his point of origin, he had achieved the strength necessary to take some of the good from that place in the form of a wife for his son, Rivka Imeinu.
However Avraham did not himself go back to Ur nor did he send his son Yitzchak. Avraham had perfected the meda, attribute, of chesed, altruistic loving kindness which at its extreme can see everything and everyone as good. This is a beautiful quality but nefarious people can easily take advantage of such a person. His son Yitzchak had perfected the meda attribute of gevuros, discipline and restraint. This quality when isolated without a balance of chesed can be to structured without a balanced flow which can lead to becoming too judgmental and unforgiving. Perfection lies in the balance of kindness and restraint, the quintessential attribute called teferes – splendor as represented by Yaakov Aveinu. It was therefore through Yaakov Aveinu that the entire Jewish nation could be developed. Thus neither Avraham nor Yitzchak returned to Avraham’s because the Torah wants to teach us that in order to be qualified to overcome the influences of one’s upbringing in a healthy perfected manner it is necessary to balance and blend chesed and gavurot so well that our personality unifies these attributes to the point that all our decisions and action emanate from the newly developed attribute of teferes.
Yaacov Avinu lived many years in the home of Lavan who was the prototype deceiver and epitome of unperceived evil but Yaacov didn’t compromise his righteousness throughout his stay. He was successfully able to release all the fallen sparks of holiness that had been trapped in the (klipa) prison of spiritual darkness and raise them back up to the light of kiddusha this being his wives, twelve children, who became the foundational roots of the entire Jewish nation, and the flocks.
Yaacov Avinu is the prototype of Torah, Avraham Avinu is the prototype (gimilus cassadim) kindness and Yitzchak Avinu is the prototype of (Avoda) Divine service. These are the three pillars of Jewish life and all need to be in place for true service. With them we are then able to confront and challenge any and all people and situations in life. Until we reach that unity and balance we need to withdraw ourselves from any and all negative influences that can distract us from our goal of spiritual enlightenment. Our front line defense is the strict adherence to following the Torah and following the wise dictates of our Sages.
At every step of the way we need to turn only to the Creator with our sincere heart and soul pleading to be shown and lead down the correct path of life. When we have securely rooted ourselves in Torah, Avoda and Gilmilus Cassidim then when can when called upon safely return – mean interact and confront even the subconscious pulls of our past. Returning to ones place of birth and upbringing – means returning to an environment and mindset whose lifestyle is parallel to that what which had before our spiritual transformation but now being able to differentiate from ones needs and ones wants. Returning to ones family means allowing our old connections and emotional feelings to surface however now being able to properly separate true G-dly emotions from emotions of self interest. Returning to ones parents means to allow ourselves to as a spiritually mature adult interact without those who had greatly influenced us but not become swayed by any emotion of nostalgia.
Even after Yaacov Avinu has successfully began his ascent back to the holy environment from which he came, we find that the Torah tells us an episode whereby Eisav confronted Yaacov trying to impede his ascent on the ladder of holiness. It was only through Yaacov’s perfection of Torah, Avoda and gimilius cassisdim that Yaacov was able to overcome Eisav and his angel. Perhaps this is hinted to in to three ways in which Yaacov prepared himself to interact with Eisav, who represents the epitome of evil. The Cazal inform us that Yaacov send gifts to his brother Eisav. First he send gifts which emanate from the media of gilmilus cassidim our spiritual inheritance from Avraham Avinu. He also prepared himself through prayer – this being Avoda parallel to Itzchak Avinu, and finally he prepared himself for war – this being the efforts of learning Torah paralleling Yaacov Avinu himself. This confrontation with Eisav came after the other challenges perhaps to teach us another important and profound lesson. Yaacov and Eisav were born twins. What are we suppose to learn from this? Cazal tells us that until they were the age of bar mitzvah Yaacov and his brother Eisav were indistinguishable – meaning they both acted externally the same. Only later did the evil of Eisav show itself in his actions. Perhaps this is to teach us that even after being successful in subduing our desires in our surroundings, influence from friends and relatives we still have another battle to confront with, that being the inner conflict of overcoming our own evil inclination that vies for power and control. This is our personal (yetzer hora) selfish inclination that exists to a certain extent no matter how perfect our environment, friends and education was thought to be. This is the face to face confrontation with our Eisav. The Torah therefore teaches us the proper way to subdue, control or defeat our evil inclination through gifts of bestowing chesed a another even if he is you enemy, through prayer thereby showing ones believe in a Higher Source to life and through preparedness for war meaning as a last resort to be willing to stand up and fight for what we believe to be right and just. When we are able to reach this level of return and tikun then the whole world will be awakened with the revelation of the proper service of Hashem in holiness. We will then be able to raise up not only ourselves but those around us thereby helping to bring the final geula.
May we merit this so soon in our days.
All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia
- JEWELRY AND THE JEWISH WOMAN’S ROLE – PARSHAS CHAI SARAH
- THE KOL (VOICE) OF YAAKOV TRANSFORMS THE YADAYIM (ACTIONS) OF EISAV – PARSHAS TOLDOS