Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hara! Isn't always a celebration

I've been struggling so much lately in my relationship with my seventeen year old niece.  I've been so frustrated and angry that I forgot about my Gd glasses. Without Gd glasses, my struggle with is just a tire turning in the mud.  Struggle is inherent. No one is immune to it, and I am, after all an Israelite, and it is in my heritage. However, as one mitzveh, begets another, my problem is my engagement into my yetzer hara.  I have done very little in way of prayer lately. I have even neglected my home observances, which is to say, my mezzuah, and its contents have gone mostly ignored - and it has taken its toll. who am i to think that my soul can work without nourishment? who am i to think that i can approach the world alone?

I usually say this, but this is one of my ultimate truths, Jacob's journey home.  

When Jacob arrives at a place on his way to haron, he decides to take a rest. at that moment, when Jacob has done nothing but look at his world with mortal eyes, gets a glimpse at a through Gd's gaze. "Gd must have been in this place, and i did not know it." The rocks know better, "Here is a tzadik. Let him rest his head against me." Even though Jacob has done nothing but deceive and steal from those who are close to him, the rocks know better. They saw with Gd glasses, a righteous man.

However, Jacob only gets a glimpse of holiness. When he arrives at his destination, the deceiver is deceived, and in turn, Jacob deceives and steals again. A recurring theme that lasts most of his life. Fortunately, it is not too late for Jacob to again experience holiness and revelation. Even after a lifetime of deceit. 

As he approaches his childhood home, he is unsure if his brother, Esau has forgiven him. Jacob sends scouts ahead, bearing gifts, and to size up Esau's mood.  The scouts are greeted by Esau...and 400 of his men...and report back to Jacob. "Ehhh. things, they don't look so good." Jacob, with his limited vision, decides to take action. He divides all he possess: wives, children, slaves and cattle, and sends messengers out, again, bearing gifts.  no change.

Now what we know of Esau is that he is barbaric.  This is why Rebecca wanted Jacob, the scholar to lead the family. But Easu has 400 men behind him. Esau is a wealthy man, and head of his family. The deception of Jacob was twenty years ago. He has accepted Jacob's gifts, but is cautious about Jacob. Is he planning to deceive him again. Will Jacob mount an attack, even though he bears gifts? He is not so barbaric. Their history together was a lifetime ago, Esau wants to know, has Jacob changed? Should he trust him? Maybe Esau is a bruit, but he is a wealthy man, and has successfully grown and led his family, so maybe he is wise as well.

Jacob hearing that Esau still waits for him with 400 men, he is perplexed. "What should I do?" He tries to scheme how he can get his brother to stand down, and accept his return to the family with love and compassion?  He needs to go off and think. He needs to go and reflect. He needs to stop shuffling around chairs on the titanic, and possibly take another approach. Maybe he needs to figure out how to get off the boat (what a horrible analogy. My apologies). But maybe he needs to view the situation from another point of view.

His transformation.

Jacob is visited by an angel, or he sees an angel, stops him and wrestles. He wrestles all night long, and when the day is dawning, and about to bring the same situation to Jacob's feet, he grabs the angel, refusing to let him go, and he demands to be blessed. Why? What is a blessing going to do for him? What does he hope to gain from this blessing? The angel informs him, "Hey! I already blessed you, now let me go!".

"No! do it again! bless me!"

The angel relents, and makes it more clear - I bless you and rename you Israel. For you have struggled with Gd.

In his asking to be blessed, Jacob is asking for more. He wants holiness. the angel reminds him. Man! you already got it!

Jacob is like, "But i missed it the first time. Do it again. And this time, make me see it!"

The second time, Jacob's eyes open, that is to say, his heart is open. a layer of this mortal world has been freed from his neshama, and he now sees what the rocks had seen.  He now sees a righteous man, but not only in himself, but in his brother, Esau as well. Jacob sees now with Gd's eyes.

With this clearer, holier vision, Jacob approaches his brother not with a sword, but with humility for what he had done to his brother and his father. he and esau embrace each other. they kiss, and they weep. After twenty years of isolation and past hurts, our patriarch accepts his holiness, his humility, and now sees with love.

Easy! Right?!

Jacob's example is repeated again in Joshua, but it's an important lesson. We should never go it alone. Our mortal vision is not enough. Don't only revere Jacob. Show him the most sincerest form of flattery, and do what he has done. Reflect. Reclaim your name, Israelite, see that Gd has been here -  for this place, this person is surely blessed.

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