Posts tagged Patriarchs
I’m giving over a list of the coping tools…. Coping with difficulty, exile, confusion, darkness, mundaneness in life… These are tools that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs gave to us. I think it’s exactly the right time to do this now, before we finish off the first of the five books of Moses which is all about the Patriarchs, and get into the second book which is all about exile.
We need to learn coping tools from the Patriarchs to cope with the long, dark night of our own exile, which we have been experiencing for ‘way too long now.
Without going into the sources, to save time right now, I’m just going to get straight into our forefathers’ coping tools:
- First of all, go inside yourself before you give over to other people. Find out the essence of who YOU are.
- Detach from all the definitions of who you were beforehand when you were setting out on a new mission in life.
- Let go and Let G-d. He will take you there. You don’t have to worry about a thing. Watch how G-d is guiding your every step of the way.
- Be a person who is looking out for his own posterity, who is taking the trouble now to help his posterity now and in the future as well.
- If necessary, be a person who opposes everybody in the world. You stand on one side and everybody else stands on the other side, for the sake of doing the right thing.
- Be a radical monotheist. Understand that there are no secondhand powers in life, that it’s just G-d. Try to life that reality as much as possible.
- Live everyday as though everything coming to you now will never be lost, and it’s all extremely important, down to the last drop.
- We have trials in life which are either testing or connection to G-d, or they are testing our natural inclinations to see how strongly we are grounded in it. So, hang in there.
- There is a mirror effect in life, and to the extent we live extraordinary lives G-d will guide us in extraordinary ways.
- Take counsel with G-d. When you’re in doubt, ask, “What does G-d have to say about this?”
- We have connections with all of our children, but we need to recognize when one particular child is more connected, and we should not show favoritism, but we should pay attention to how we can take advantage of having this child perpetuate the ability to live in an above-nature way.
- Be a person who is here to fix-up the world, and more specifically the fallout effects of Adam and Eve.
- Understand the incredible wellsprings are at our fingertips at all times. We just need to dig to uncover them.
- Holiness occurs when we go into the mundane and we find G-dliness, we reveal G-dliness where G-dliness is normally not found.
- We need to get to the level of habitual living, to the point where our feet take us where we need to go in life, without even having to think about it.
- We need to know how to cope with the particular exile we’re found in, and know it’s there for a reason, and study it and know how to respond to it.
- When we have something that is extremely important we need to be able to share it, to help others who need it as well.
- We need to separate ourselves out from the darker parts of ourselves, to reveal them, put them in their proper place and to be able to live a life without being enslaved to those darker parts.
- To the extent that we are in connection, to that extent we are free from all negativity.
- The future is right now, not only in the future, but it’s right now. When we live in future consciousness, we’re living in higher, expanded consciousness.
- We need to know that sometimes we are higher and sometimes we are lower consciousness. We have to develop the tools and the wisdom to know how to live in both in a healthy way.
- We may be a firey personality, but we have to hook-up with a child or a student or somebody else who can take our firey personality into a full-blown flame and blow away the opposition,
- I need to know I’m a person with the ability to draw down endless abundance, depending upon whether I have a good eye, whether I’m unselfish, whether I see the abundance is coming from G-d, whether I trust it and don’t chase after lower things to get it. When I do those things I bring down abundance for myself and for other people.
- I need to live with humility, with prayer and with gratitude for everything and everybody who has helped me.
- I need to know that wherever I am, in whatever situation G-d is there with me, he’ll be there with me and he’ll bring me out of the situation, too.
- We need to know how to transcend death. The forefathers teach us it’s possible, and it’s the lesson we need to learn in life.
- We need to receive and give blessings that are so powerful and so appropriate to the people who receive them that the blessings will last a lifetime.
- That which is the most important coping mechanism of very, very different types of people, and is the unified factor, is to know that G-d is with us all.
- Even though we fall into the lowest of places from there we fall into the highest of places.
And that’s it from the Patriarchs.
I’m going to speak about Parasha Vayeshev. I’d like to bring a few points about it, and the common denominator of all of them is that the Patriarchs always have a lot going on under the surface.
While the rest of us might simply pay attention to what’s happening on the surface level, they force us to pay attention to what’s going on under the surface of human behavior.
Here are my points:
My first point is this – Jacob’s brothers reported to their father Yaakov that Jacob had been killed, and Yaakov heard the news. But for the twenty-two years he didn’t see his son, Yaakov did not believe it. Because the heart of a parent knows the truth about another family member. There’s a natural removal of their presence from the heart, in a painful way, not in any king of a threatening way. We never completely get over our connections, but in this situation Yaakov knew that Jacob must be alive, despite the reports he heard.
Under the surface, the heart knows what is really going on with someone in their own family. We have a mechanism called the labush, which is the metaphysical connection between family members, or a rebbe and his students, or very, very close friends. Labush informs us, and though it may be reported one way on a surface level, under the surface we know better.
My second point is this – the potential husbands of Judah’s daughter-in-law, Tamar, were named Er and Onan. Due to their reluctance or reticence to impregnate their potential wife, they opted to spill their seminal fluid on the ground. They would rather have beauty than a true soul relationship, and they were wrong. They died, and the Torah tells us about the ramifications of their actions.
The lesson we learn is that beauty is more than skin-deep, which is another under-the-surface manifestation.
My third point is this – Joseph was sold to the House of Potiphera in Egypt. Potifera’s wife, one of the elite of Egyptian society, had sexual designs on Joseph, who was running the household. She tried to get him into bed and almost succeeded. What appeared in the mind of Joseph, just in the nick of time, was an image of his father. As a result, Joseph ran from the room and never had relations with her.
Though we may feel impassioned in certain circumstances, underneath the surface there is the voice of sanity, of morality… the voice of our fathers, telling us to keep away from danger.
My fourth point is this – Joseph’s personality personifies the Sefira of Yesod, which represents a very different attitude toward people than his brothers had when they sold him into slavery. Joseph’s brothers did not have the same “people-ing” attitude, the ability to go out and mix it up with the world.
But Joseph did have the ability and the skills, which ultimately led him to become second in control of the most powerful nation on earth. He fed the whole world successfully, while his brothers kept to themselves, away from society, building their holiness in a more modest way.
What’s under the surface in this situation is that both Joseph and his brothers had their unique purposes in Creation. We can’t judge based on the surface level alone. So, we have to understand that what may seem right or wrong has more going on under the surface of the story.
My fifth point is this –Judah and Tamar, who had relations and gave birth to the lineage of King David, ultimately established the line that will lead to Messiah. The incident, which seems contrary to morality, is similar to Er and Onan spilling seed on the ground at home. We learned that these instances help us understand that when Messiah comes he’ll be equipped to understand us all, and to say, “nobody’s got anything on me.” That is exactly why he is able to fix up the world.
Though we may see many issues on the surface, of questionable morality and lineage, under the surface the Moshiach will eventually come forth.
My sixth point is this- We learn a lot from Joseph’s dreams, and one of the most important things is that the truth of a dream reveals the truth of a person. The more truthful a person is, the more believable are their dreams. We see this with great scholars whose full-length, scholarly works on Torah came from their dreams. They were truthful and their dreams were as truthful.
Although a dream is, by definition under the surface, because it is not a waking reality, it can be a powerful manifestation of truth from a truthful person.
Finally, Yaakov spent his first hundred and thirty years with incredible suffering. And though he felt as if he had paid his dues, probably more than any other Biblical character, with the exception of Job, he never got release from anxiety until the last seventeen years of his life. His first hundred and thirty years were miserable, and it showed on his face. But we can’t judge him based on that because he obviously had things to fix up. The lesson here is this – though it may seem as though we deserve a break in this world, that’s not what this world is all about. Under the surface this world is all about fixing up unfinished business, and we don’t have a say in how easy or difficult that’s going to be.
So, we have to simply keep on keepin’ on.