Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Parshat Vayishlach

Parshat Vayishlach describes the prelude to what seems an inevitable and deadly battle between two brothers Yaakov and Eisav. Yaakov Avinu readies himself for this fight in three ways: by sending gifts, by praying and by preparing for war. Nowadays, we too continue this fight between the Jews and the Goyim. The struggle for our generation is the struggle of self hood is a battle that we fight every day. We really do not know who we are. We direct our energies in many directions and whichever one captivates us at the moment defines us. However, according to Rabbi Kagan, the true self is one and unified, just as G-d is one and unified. This is a consequence created betzelem Elokim- a part of G-d Himself. How do we access this oneness in ourselves? First we must understand what makes us unique among the rest of creation. What constitutes the soul of a human being? FREE CHOICE. This is what distinguishes the human being from the animal. Animals are reactive, their actions entirely are a product of environmental stimuli. To be a person means not to react, but to act. That is what responsibility is about, the ability to choose a response, the ability to make choices while understanding the consequences of those choices. When one chooses, one owns ones self. If one is reactive one is not using one's free choice and will be unable to develop one's self and individuality. Our experiences in life are not what make us who we are, but rather opportunities to make ourselves into who we can be. Hashem provides the background for our choices; He leaves it up to us to choose, to create ourselves. Our task is to discover who we are as a person. In order for this discovery to take place one needs to be aware of the choices he makes as to the way he acts and speaks. These are the two main things that can help a person discover himself. Once you have discovered yourself, you are now aware of the battle that you are facing and Bezrat Hashem you will be able to overcome all the challenges Hashem gives you. Amen!
Shabbat Shalom

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