Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Politics of Restraint in Relating to Others - connection with Toldot

Itzhak and Rivka has two sons Ya'acov and Esav. From the their conception to their birth and beyond they struggled with each other. Two very different people, and one was flawed and the other strove for perfection and sought to I come his limitations. Ya'acov who was conceived first, should have been born first. But it was the younger hairy red Esav who pushed to the front to attempt to steal the birthright from his brother Ya'acov, who was allowed later to regain the birthright both through the actions of his mother Rivka and Esav himself.
What does Esav represent for us, but a person who does follow his own desires, a hunter and a trapper of men with his tongue. He is actually cleverer, more cunning by far than Ya'acov. Ya'acov dwells in tents, he is a civilised and sweet human being, a bit naive, gentle and compassionate. He does not want to trick his father, but Rivka knows that for his own survival in this world he must develop insight and vision in dealing with the Esav's of this world even though they are his own brother, in ord to survive. Esav is a hunter, a cunning predator and Rivka knows that if it suited him he would have no compassion or conscience about even killing Ya'acov if he could benefit from it. He is a person who follows only what is best for Esav. He is all ego and a me first person. Ya'acov who was born hanging onto his heel, is no match for him when he is younger. Rivka knows this. Ya'acov who dwells in the tents, does care for others. He is cooking the meal of mourning for his father Itzhak at the death of Avraham when Esav comes in and demands of him,'Give me some of that red stuff,'  He has been out in the fields while Ya'acov has tended to the needs of the dead and the mourner. Ya'acov has instinctive insight into fulfilling the needs of others on many levels.
Esav does not. He is a person with great potential but all of it is used for his own gains and nothing for others. He is potentially very dangerous to cross. When Ya'acov takes back his birthright, Esav wants to kill him and that is why Rivka tells Ya'acov to flee.
The lesson that Ya'acov has learnt with his own family does him in good stead when dealing with another trickster Laban.
If we see into people that we come into contact with we can see both the qualities of Ya'acov and Esav. There are those who are very much immersed in the physicality of this world. Their senses are closed to the spiritual realms. It does not mean that they can not comprehend different dimensions, they can, but they do not want to do so. It involves too much effort and self sacrifice. They have to step out of themselves and imagine how another person would feel or why they act as they do. They are locked within their view or perspective of the world. To step into the realms of another view we need to focus on that person and see them with compassion and understanding.  The Esav's of this world are focused only on their appetites and immediate satisfaction of physical desires.
Ya'acov contemplates and strives to understand a situation, a person and a concept. Ya'acov looks to the future and not just of the first generation but succeeding generations. Ya'acov himself was also flawed in his absolute love for Yosef at the expense of his brothers and also Yosef himself.
There is a little bit of Ya'acov in all of us, just as there is the Esav. The latter, untrammelled desires, doing what we want without thinking of our family and those around us, eating and drinking, using our resources with abandon, pleasure seeking hedonists are the Esav's of this world. Many of them are such sad and bitter people, because nothing will ever be enough or fill the void. They are rarely content and seek to always get what they want and more and more. Their eyes search hungrily for the next thrill, sexual adventure, people to trick and deceive to make money and who cares if they swindle and cheat and destroy to do so, they do not. They swallow all in their path if they can.
Ya'acov on the other hand, contemplates, learns and is a builder of the generations - a family man and a maker of peace. Think how hard it must have been for Ya'acov married to two sisters. That in and of itself, must have been a feat of extreme sensitivity and compassion on his part.
Ya'acov teaches us the fine line between excessive controls and fulfilment of desires and how to do the right thing when all our instincts and passions may be saying 'Oh G-D this is so unfair! Why,why me? We must learn patience and perseverance and fix we have to trick in order to gain back what is rightfully ours or to survive murderous intents of others, then we must.
Shabbat Shalom

No comments: