Tag Archives: Tanya

How Do You Handle the Yetzer HaRa (the Evil Impulse)?


This is a question I have been considering with a friend. How can we deal with the drive to act badly; to react with negativity, evil, calamity, poor choices; “haRa” in Hebrew?

Punk Rock Doggie

Can you tell the difference between a Nefesh haBehamit – an animal nature – and a Yetzer haRa – a negative impulse?

I think the first thing to do, at least from a Chassidic perspective, is to consider whether something we are doing is a Yezter haRa or a reaction of Nefesh haBehamit. The two look at lot alike and function in much the same way, but they are different. And need to be treated differently. Each respected for their power in a different way.

When it comes to the Nefesh haBehamit – the animal nature – that is something that we cannot stop. It is our natural desire and drive. Our carnal impulse. We cannot completely overpower that, it is part of our nature.

Now the Yetzer haRa – the negative influence – is a lot like the animal nature, it is something that is also profoundly powerful and likewise has a deep-seated drive inside of us. And this too has a seemingly usefulness, as it is the lusty drive and ambition that animates us. Much of a person’s passion for life is sparked by this drive. However, bad actions of a Yetzer haRa is something we can fix.

So how do we remedy an over-active Nefesh haBehamit and a Yetzer haRa that won’t let up?

We are taught that the best way is to learn to channel our Yetzer haRa – as manifest in our passion, drives and desires – into something useful, or even into something artistic. To use our passions for creating, instead of destroying. Though we can try to kill it, it can be useful if reused for another powerful outcome.

The Nefesh haBehamit – the animal nature – that is something we likewise need to channel into something good. This is often easier to achieve here because we can learn to treat these drives in us in a more natural fashion, instead of fighting against ourselves. We can train our nature, but we cannot break it. We cannot kill it without killing ourselves, so we shouldn’t try that.

Either way, be it a Nefesh haBehamit or Yetzer haRa, we seek to learn to not be controlled by either. We learn to master them both, and use them to our advantage. Learning to respect the powerful drives that propel us forward in life, and harness their strength.

I believe that by channelling them into something, instead of letting them simmer in the background in a pot of shame, we reclaim mastery over our desires and our creative energies.

As the Torah reads:

“Is it not so that if you improve, you will be forgiven? If you do not improve, however, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is to have you. But you must master it.”

הֲלוֹא אִםתֵּיטִיב, שְׂאֵת, וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב, לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ; וְאֵלֶיךָ, תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ, וְאַתָּה, תִּמְשָׁלבּוֹ:

Genesis 4:7

What do you think? I’m not sure I exactly agree all the way with the video below, so I would like to know how maybe you would help a friend with a yetzer hara. How should we perceive the struggle of a friend in a battle with their nature and urges?

Some follow-up material for consideration:

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Parshat Terumah (2013)


Exodus 25:1 – 27:19

Making a Dwelling Place for G-d

Hashem spoke to Moses saying:

Speak to the Children of Israel

and let them take for Me a portion,

from every man whose heart motivated him

you shall take My portion.”

| Vayedaber Hashem el-Moshe lemor

| Daber el-benei Yisra’el

| veyikchu-li trumah

| me’et kol-ish asher yidvenu libo

| tikchu et-trumati

Exodus 25:1

Pillar of Smoke and FireThis weeks parsha begins with the words “Vayedaber Hashem el-Moshe lemor / Hashem spoke to Moses saying.” The first question we should ask ourselves is, when did He say this; when did this take place? There are various possibilities presented to us by our Sages and Rabbis. The Baalei Tosafot, Ibn Ezra, the Zohar and several other commentaries say that these words were spoken to Moshe Rabbenu – Moses our Teacher – when he went up to the mountain for 40 days. However, Rashi’s commentary of Exodus, with both Tanchumah and Seder Olam Rabbah, contend that these words were spoken after the incident of the Golden Calf when Moses went up to receive the second set of tablets. However the point should be made that we are certain that these words are connected to either one of these events; you see the book of Exodus primarily concerns itself with two topics from here on. Aside from the story of the Gold Calf (which only takes up two chapters), the remainder of the book of Exodus is devoted to the preparation for construction of the Mishkan the Tabernacle. This parsha is named Trumah, after the portion contributed by each person to help build this Tabernacle sanctuary mentioned here.

In terms of the dictation of biblical commandments, the central focus of the mitzvot of Exodus surrounds the Mishkan. This being the case then we must furthermore ask ourselves what the significance of the Mishkan is. For the Hebrew speaker the word Mishkan is so direct and simple that the profoundness of it can easily be missed; Mishkan literally means a dwelling place, or a habitation. Before the Beit haMikdash the Temple – this was done in the Mishkan tent and not a fixed building, but here in this parsha we see the foundation of Temple worship laid for both instances. Our parsha reads:

Now they shall make Me a sanctuary,

and I will dwell among them.”

| Ve’asu li mikdash

| veshachanti betocham.

Exodus 25:8

And that is really all the place was, a sanctuary constructed unto G-d. There was indeed a type of worship that was centered in this complex, it was designed with altars for sacrifices of all sorts, but namely the perpetual tamid offering of incense that was always lit as the central element of worship. The other task of temple worship was to care for the Holy of Hollies (Kadosh Kadoshim), held in an inner building that also had a perpetually lit candelabrum, the Menorah that illuminated the sanctuary. This was considered the earthly dwelling place of the G-d of Israel. It was so notorious that people from all over the world came to witness it, even though no one other than the high priest was allowed to go into the innermost sanctum. The priests occupied themselves with maintaining this during the day, but the symbols of its occupation through its fires was constant.

What demanded so much attention? What made this all so holy that it would drive the theme of the scriptures so much and the imaginations of people throughout the ages in such a profound way? Even those who are not G-d fearing have asked this question.

In the year 63 B.C.E. after years of besieging the city of Jerusalem the arrogant Roman general Pompey insisted as “victor” had the right to enter into the Holy of Holies itself – beyond of the veils into the Kadosh Kadoshim, his motivation seemingly one of defiance as much as curiosity. Roman historian Tacitus made note of it this way:

Roman control of Judaea was first established by Gnaeus Pompey. As victor he claimed the right to enter the Temple, and this incident gave rise to the common impression that it contained no representation of the deity — the sanctuary was empty and the Holy of Holies untenanted.”

The Histories:” Book Five §9,

Cornelius Tacitus, 105 C.E.

When Pompey entered he found no images, no symbols of any kind. All he found was old Torah scrolls occupying the inner chambers. Though this is documented over 150 years after the fact, this is one of the only historical and independent reference we really have that describes the interior for us. Flavius Josephus would also note this event as well, but aside from that the only thing we know about the Temple is from the Torah and the Talmud.

I find it interesting that of all the things that is noted by the classic historians, they would marvel in the lack of images or representations of a deity. Also when Tacitus and Josephus, both imperial Romans but one being non-Jewish and the other Jewish, make this point and note that it is unoccupied they are making a huge statement. Normally in the Greco-Roman custom, like for most other non-Jews of the region, it was common for even a priests or priestesses to be consecrated as a living deity and abide in the inner chambers of their temple complexes. But this was not the case here. It was unique and noteworthy, there were no idols nor demigods or devis in this sanctuary.

Though this is not what surprises most of us Torah students, we are not at all taken back by its lack of images or representations. In much of our recent studies we have discussed the Torah’s demand that we not give in to idolatry and how it champions iconoclasm. In terms of general religion this complex is pretty simple, but this Temple is not exactly empty though. So what should surprise us is the nature of the commandments being given in order to make a sanctuary. The specifics for construction are extremely detailed and demanding, building instruments that are intended for a home; candelabras, tables, curtains, ect. Why are they being told to build things out of precious gold, to make a dwelling tent for an incorporeal G-d? What type of need does it satisfy?

In the Talmud people also wrestle with this question, and the rabbis come to an interesting conclusion as to why all the ritual tenants of the sanctuary were created:

Rabbi Sheshet retorted: ‘Place the lampstand outside the curtain of the Ark of the Covenant…’ (Lev. 24:3) Does [the Holy One, blessed be He] need it’s light? All forty years that the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, were they not following His light? However, the lampstand attests to all who are in the world that the Divine Presence dwells among Israel.”

מתיב רב ששת: (ויקרא כד) מחוץ לפרוכת העדות יערוך וכי לאורה הוא צריך והלא כל ארבעים שנה שהלכו בני ישראל במדבר לא הלכו אלא לאורו אלא עדות היא לבאי עולם שהשכינה שורה בישראל:

Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 22b

In this text Rabbi Sheshet asks us to consider a section of Torah of Leviticus 24:1-4. What our text seems to imply is that even though some of the ritual items appear to have a usefulness, their purpose is for more than mere functionality. For those who are keen to the rituals of Torah know there were no Temple services that took place during the evening, there was no work for the priests to do that demanded light. The lamp-stands were purely intended to stand before the presence of G-d, in the same way as the golden cherubim that were made also stood there to herald the presence of G-d in the sanctuary and flood it with reflective light off their golden wings. The priest didn’t work by the menorah’s diffused light, nor did G-d need its light as He showed His presence in a self-illuminating cloud before His people during the Exodus. Our rabbis here contend that the reason for the ritual items was to signify to the world that G-d’s presence dwells among Israel.

I want us to remember that this section of Torah goes in tandem with Golden Calf crisis, either being immediately before or precisely after the incident. It may seem odd to us that G-d, who unleashes wrath on the people for making a cult around objects of gold and worshiping before them, that here He would be commanding people to make a Temple complex and corresponding rituals for it in worship to Him. Again, no one is exactly sure if this is taking place while the people are below building a Golden Calf or if it is after the fact; but what the juxtaposition of these stories tells us is that G-d had to define right away how the people of Israel were going to be able to relate to Him because left to their own devices they would degenerate into idol worship. And that is exactly what happened, after Moses and the cloud of glory ascended to the mountain and was far off from them for long.

Though our Talmud lesson here turns it all around on us, it make the point that G-d did not need any of these items anymore than He needed a lamp for light. But the people felt a great need, they intensely needed something to symbolize that G-d dwelt among them. Just like the pillar of cloud by day, the smoke of incense offerings would raise up from the middle of the camp; and the same as a pillar of fire by night, the Menorah would shine its light to remind the people of the Divine Presence that dwelt among them.

I have to stress that point, that this sanctuary is to remind the people that G-d dwells among them, because the truth is that G-d is always with us. In all instances before the dedications or restorations of the Temples G-d made it known that He would dwell their in their midst, not just because they had built a complex but because He dwells with His people forever. (compare Exodus 25:8, 29:45; Zachariah 2:14-15; I Kings 6:13; Ezekiel 43:9)

We need to understand that this commandment regarding building of the Tabernacle and the Temple instruments is not one of, “Build it and He will come.” Instead it is more like, “Build it, so that you will know that He is with you.”

As we look back at our ancestors and consider the context of their way of worship, perplexed as to what motivated them to show their adoration for the Divine in this way, we need to understand that all people have an innate drive to bring holiness and wholeness into the world. We all desire to make things better than they are, to bring a purposefulness and intentionality to things in our world. And this was their way of showing it. In the chassidic, mystical work of the Tanya we find the following statement made:

Now it is so for every person, |

and the purpose of all His creations |

and the creation of all the worlds, |

to make a dwelling place for |

G-d in this lower world.” |

זה כל האדם 

ותכלית בריאתו 

ובריאות כל העולמות 

עליונים ותחתונילהיות 

לו דירה זו בתחתוני

Likkutei Amarim – Tanya, Chapter 33

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe

On a fundamental level, everything in the universe was created to be an embodiment of godliness. The kabbalists teach us that the universe was created as a space in order for the Divine to be manifest. The universe is a canvas, and the elements in it are materials we can artistically fashion to show the glory of the Divine. And each of us people, our desire is to bring completion and holiness to this world. Us living things have an internal drive to be partners in this act of creation, taking the basic elements of the world and fashion them into a display of higher order. That is just what we are meant to do.

Though we do not have a Temple that stands before us, we need to be aware that the Divine Presence does dwell among us. And this Torah displays many other ways, aside from just the commandments of building a Tabernacle, for how we can manifest holiness in this world. We can take the basic elements of everyday life and raise them to holiness through completing mitzvot. We can take the ordinary things of life and impart spirituality and intention into them, and thus allow holiness to dwell in our homes and lives. In this way we can cause Hashem to dwell among us.

What type of contribution are you willing to make today in order to bring godliness into the world?

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Parshat Yitro (2012)


Parshat Yitro
Exodus 18 -20

Family: The duty which comes before even religion itself

And Yitro – the high priest of Midian,

father-in-law of Moses –

heard all G-d did

for Moses and for Israel, His People;

when Hashem brought Israel out of Egypt.

Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, brought along

Tziporah, Moses’ wife.

After all, he had sent her away

along with her sons.”

| V’yishma Yitro, kohein midian,

| chotein Mosheh

| et kol asher asah Elohim

| l’Moshe ul’Yisrael amo

| ki hotzi Hashem et Yisrael mi mitzrayim.

| Vayikach Yitro chotein Mosheh

| et Tziporah eishet Mosheh

| achar shiluchei’ah

| v’eit vaneiha

Exodus 18:1-2

Jethro and Moses, as in Exodus 18, watercolor ...This parsha is one of the few parashiot that is named after a person. It is named after Yitro (Jethro) who is the father-in-law of Moses. Yitro is identified as the high priest of Midian. The people of Midian were a tribal people who were primarily identified with the region east of Eilat and Aqaba, on the Arabian peninsula. However they were a nomadic people, who likewise migrated through the Sinai peninsula. If you recall when Yoseph was sold into slavery he was sold to the Midianites, that are identified as traveling arab merchants (Gen. 37:28). This is all to say they were a significant people, a regional force. And Yitro as a high priest held a role best identified as a chieftain of his people.

What we are going to learn as we explore this parsha is that Yitro is going become a convert, and join with the people of Israel in this parsha. During his conversion ceremony he makes one of the first blessings recorded:

And Yitro said:

Blessed is Hashem who rescued you

from the hand of Egypt

and from the hand of Pharaoh;

who rescued the people from under

the hand of Egypt.

And now I know

that Hashem is greater

than all the deities.

As they planned, it happened back to them.”

| Vayomer Yitro,

| Baruch Hashem asher hitzil etchem

| miyad Mitzrayim

| umiyad Paroh

| asher hitzil et ha’am mitachat

| yad Mitzrayim.

| Atah yadati

| ki gadol Hashem

| mikol ha’elohim

| ki vadavar asher zadu aleihem.

Exodus 18:16-17

Yitro, like most converts, is most impressed with how greatly G-d has preserved the Jewish people both on a personal and on a national level. He thus invokes the Four-Letter Name of G-d (יהוה), because he has come to understand that greatness of G-d and to associate the G-d of Israel as the Supreme G-d, the Master of All. Yitro then goes on to offer sacrifice and offerings to Hashem; (v.18) followed by a communal meal in which Moses, Aaron and all the elders of Israel took part. This was not ecumenicism, this was understood as true and total conversion; the religious and dietary barriers no longer there as he is recognized among the congregation of Israel.

When we look at this parsha we should understand that the conversion of Yitro is a big deal, truly he was a celebrity in his day. His conversion attested to the credibility of the Hebrew faith and the openness to which it showed those who were drawn to follow this religion.

As we look at the commentary of the rabbis for the first verses of chapter 18 we are going to see a bunch of very interesting but seeming unrelated points. For example Rashi spends a great deal of time dealing with the fact that Yitro was a man who commanded great respect. He also states that since Moses met him he had associated his own success to his relationship with Yitro. The scriptural text and the rabbis go to great lengths to point out how now as Yitro comes before Moses he comes reverently, but Moses despite the seeming change in positions still shows deference and respect towards his father-in-law.

Through out this parsha Moses is going to respect Yitro as one would a parent. In a lot of ways, this is the nature of the relationship. Yitro apparently was without sons, this is why his daughters were doing the work of the tending the flock and were alone to be harassed when Moses encountered them the first time and rescued them. As the relationship grew and Moses married into the family of Yitro it is certain that it was Yitro who taught Moses everything he needed to know about how to survive the life of a shepherd nomad, a skilled and dangerous life he was not accustomed to. But we must remember first off that even though Yitro was like a father to Moses, he was the true father of Tziporah first.

So when Yitro comes to join Moses, he announces by messenger even before he arrives that he is bringing Tziporah and their two sons as well. (v.6)

Whats Going On With This Family?

The most obvious question that we are faced with when we approach this parsha is, “why is Moses separated from his family?” If we look at the commentary of Rashi for an explanation it gets an even more confusing at first. Rashi tells us that Yitro announced his coming with Moses’ wife and children, while hinting that Yitro believed that Moses might be unreceptive of them. Rashi says that Yitro considered that if Moses wouldn’t come out to greet and accept him, then he might instead be more inclined to do so for his wife, if not for her sake then he hoped certainly for the sake of his children. Why would he suggest this?

The simple reason is, Yitro’s concern comes from the fact that Moses has now become a man of great status since going down to Egypt, the roles have become reversed. Would Moses still be the endearing son-in-law or had he become too self-important for this type of relationship? Secondly, would Moses affirm his Midianite wife and their children or would he dismiss them as illegitimate?

Also, we must keep in mind that the children of Israel were coming to conquer the Land and settle it, whereas the Midianites are among the inhabitants of Canaan. As the story of the exodus continues the tension between Israel and Midian is going to increase, so by the time we get to the book of Numbers the Midianites will be aligned with the Moab in their war against the Israelites (see Numbers chapter 22, see Parshat Balak).

However, it appears that his concern is unfounded. When Moses approaches Yitro he will bow to the ground in respect, they will inquire of each others wellbeing warmly and Moses would welcome them into his tent. The relationship had not changed, Moses still showed respect and reverence for his father-in-law, even though Moses was now the spiritual leader and Yitro the student it would appear, but the love hadn’t wained in the least bit.

But it is still perplexing as to why Moses did not travel with his family, and they are only now joining him. Why did Moses appear to almost abandon his family while he went off to Egypt on his mission from G-d?

Rashi explains to us his commentary for the next verse:

Because

the Holy one, Blessed be He, said to him

while in Midian

‘Go, return to Egypt’ (Exod. 4: 19),

[therefore] ‘Moses took his wife

and his sons, etc.’

(Exod. 4:20)

And Aharon went forth to meet him,

near the Mountain of G-d.

[Aharon] said to him: ‘Who are

these with you?’

[Moses] said to him:

‘This is my wife that I married in Midian

and my sons.’

[Aharon] said ‘No!

We suffered enough regret because of the first of us

[who went down to Egypt],

and yet you want to go ahead

and increase them!’

And [Moses] then said to her:

‘Return to your father’s house,’

so she took her two sons and departed

[to Midian]”

כשאמר |

לו הקבה |

במדין |

לך שוב מצרימה, (שמות ד יט) |

ויקח משה את אשתו ואת |

בניו גו‘ |

(שם כ) |

ויצא אהרן לקראתו ויפגשהו |

בהר האלהים. |

אמר לו מי |

הם הללו. |

אמר לו |

זו היא אשתי שנשאתי במדין |

ואלו בני. |

אמר לו |

על הראשונים |

אנו מצטערים |

ואתה בא |

להוסיף עליהם |

אמר לה |

לכי לבית אביך |

נטלה שני בניה והלכה לה |

Rashi on Exodus 18:2

Rashi tells us that when Moses went down to Egypt he met-up along the way with his brother Aharon, who was also tasked with helping to liberate the people of Israel; the two working as a pair, Moses as prophet and Aharon as priest. When Moses finally encounters Aharon he asks him who he had brought along with him, among the people was his wife Tziporah and his two sons.

It appears to me that Moses would have most likely traveled with a band of Midianites, being nomadic merchants they could have easily made their way to Egypt going along with the regular trading caravans. Secondly, they would have needed assistance in actually crossing into Egypt, as our sages tell us the kingdom of Egypt had a closed border; the land bridge between Africa and Asia by means of the route past Gaza was easily secured, being only a small highway and not much more. Just as unlikely as Yoseph could have made it to Egypt without an escort, it is just as likely Moses would have also found entrance to be an obstacle. Moses is infiltrating into Egypt, where he is not welcome, most likely hiding among Midianite merchants to cross over.

Aharon is quick to object though when he realizes they are his family. He points out that the hostility of the Egyptians towards the children of Israel came about because only a few people came to settle there, 70 persons in total (Exodus 1:5). Aharon says that Moses would only be instigating further resentment if he came with more “illegal aliens.” So Moses instead sends his sons and wife back to Midian, to the house of Yitro as he is the cho’tan, (father-in-law), the male patriarch of their clan; therefore it is his responsibility to care her. Keep in mind that during this time in history women do not possess any autonomy, they are always answered and cared for by a male. If not their father or husband, then by another relative in their absence.

Now generally when someone divorced a wife, the custom was to send them back to their father’s house. Had Moses intended to end their marriage, or was he still her cha’tan; her husband, her man?

This is a real issue between them, as Moses and Tziporah had already suffered problems in their marriage related to Moses being seemingly more caught up in his task for G-d than showing concern for his own family. Immediately after the burning bush Moses and her would already face a crisis, as G-d had sought to kill their son because Moses had failed to circumcise him on their way down to Egypt. Tzipporah instead would perform it herself, saving his life. However, his lack of concern in the matter left her noticeably angry with him as she threw the foreskin at his feet; with her saying “ki chatan damim atah li / for you are a bloody husband to me.” (Exodus 4:25) One can only imagine how deep this sense of neglect and rejection ran. How relevant were they as family when Moses did not show concern to bring his son under the symbol of the covenant, almost like he is illegitimate?

In the end it appears that this fear and paranoia was unfounded, Moses still cared for them when they were reunited. But that doesn’t mean that this family still didn’t have some serious issues to work out. In our study of Parshat Shoftim we discussed how Yitro gave Moses advice on appointing judges and magistrates to hear cases for him, delegating so that he would not be overwhelmed settling all the matters of the people. Though Yitro’s words of wisdom offer a benefit to Moses, it wasn’t just to make his life easier; he expected better for his daughter and grandchildren. Moses could not fulfill his responsibility of husband and father while micromanaging the whole nation of Israel.

Moses, is truly “the most humble of men” as the Torah tells us (Numbers 12:3). Most people would resent having to take correction from the in-law. Furthermore, Yitro was now just a commoner among Israel, holding no position, and correcting him in his home and congregation; nonetheless Moses would take his correction to heart.

The reason the rabbis are forced to have to deal with this topic is because unlike other religions, abandoning your family for the call of G-d or in pursuit of asceticism is unthinkable in Judaism. Buddha abandoned the family he fathered and was rewarded with enlightenment. Jesus tells people that if one is not willing to reject their family for him then you are not worth of G-d. And those types of examples are not just metaphors, the followers of these and other like religions are not without a myriad of examples of people following through with this type of total abandon. However, among the Jews such a mentality is anathema. It’s a mitzvah – an obligatory commandment – to make a family, and then a responsibility to maintain it.

In the Tanya we learn that one of the human tendencies when having a religious experience is to want to abandon everything and merely connect with the spiritual. To the point that the soul wishes to leave the physical world behind and merge back into the world of Divine Essence. However, it points out that we instead are commanded to go back to our lives and do righteousness there. And in our mundane lives we elevate those things and encounters we have to holiness; that is our task.

Abandoning and neglecting ones family is something that most people and cultures would frown upon. For this reason people often need to have creative excuses to offer for their actions. The first one that is generally used by fanatics is that they know this is the will of G-d because He spoke to them. This reason is completely false, because we never have an example anywhere in the Scriptures where one was allowed to abandon their wife and children; such dispensation was not even given to Moses who spoke with G-d “face-to-face.”

The second reason usually given is that they are the only person who understands what G-d wants, He needs them. And this reason is just as false for the same reasons. No one knew G-d like Moses did, neither before him or after him (Deuteronomy 34:10). He was the writer of the Torah, no one knew the words of G-d, His laws and ways better than Moses. Though G-d called Moses to task, G-d did not essentially need Moses. Others were capable and needed to be accomplished in administering Torah justice in order for it to continue on anyhow. It was Moses’ job as teacher to enable the people to keep Torah, but he was not needed to make the system work. No one is so wise that without their help G-d is handicapped, it was not true for Moses and certainly it isn’t true for any us.

Moses did fulfill his calling, but also at this point arises to his responsibility as head of his family. He was just as responsible for his job as leader as he was being father to Gershom and Eliezer. Not for any lofty purposes, his role as father was not so that he could produce a dynasty; in fact his sons never become men of any importance at all. He was merely fulfilling his fatherly duty because it was the right thing.

No matter who we are, and how important we think our mission in life is, if we put anything before our own family the scriptures speak to us “lo tov hadavar asher ata oseh / this thing that you are doing is not good!” (Exodus 18:17)


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