Monday, November 4, 2013

The "Grey" Generation

From the Torah reading of Toldos we saw that Issac was very different than his father Abraham who personified kindness. Abraham had a yeshiva of thousands while Issac had only one student - Jacob. Abraham could tolerate all kinds of people in his midst - Issac could not.

What does this mean for us today?

Issac personified the personality characteristic of gevura (the strength to set limits). G-d knew that he needed this quality in order to be able to clearly differentiate between his good son, Jacob and his evil son, Esav. Issac's level of submission to G-d was so complete that G-d separated "light" from "dark" for Issac as only G-d could have done. After all, no man could have created the first "day" out of total "darkness."  By choosing Jacob as his spiritual heir, Issac insured that the Jewish people would inherit Jacob's pure and holy nature rather than Esav's.

Rabbi Arush says that today we are living in the "grey" generation. In other words, when our faith is weak, we are not able to activate the "Issac" within us and we have trouble picking up on G-d's signals that tell us clearly what is right and what is wrong. As a result we live in doubt  or "grey" - the undifferentiated good and bad. 

The root of our ability to avoid bad thoughts, speech and behavior can only come from the power of gevura. Our role model for this is Issac the son of Abraham. Trying to think correctly, speak correctly and behave correctly without submission to G-d's morality is as arrogant as thinking that a human being can separate day from night by himself! 

Like Issac who was willing to stretch out his neck to be slaughtered in G-d's name, we must also feel ready to sacrifice ourselves rather than think, speak and behave incorrectly. We must remember that in a sense our lives are also at stake. To think bad thoughts about ourselves and others  is wrong. 

Let's admit the futility of continuing to "force" ourselves to be positive and submit to praying that G-d will send us the same strength that He sent to Issac. In this way we will break-through our human limitations and  become empowered with the greater than human strength that we need to be truly successful. 

Have a great day and a great new month of Kislev!
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen