Thursday, 17 May 2012

Day 25: Remember Your Heritage

Part 1/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

by Miller, Rabbi Zvi (See all authors)

What tools can I use to make sure I make the best choices?

A fascinating insight found in Midrash Tanchuma (Vayeshev) is that the righteous and the wicked both use their sense of sight, but for different purposes.

"Tzaddikim elevate themselves with their eyes, as it says (Bereishit 22:4), 'And Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.' Regarding Yitzchak, it says (Bereishit 24:63): 'And Yitzchak went out to the field in the evening and he saw...' About Yaakov, it says (Bereishit 33:1): 'And Yaakov lifted up his eyes and saw...'

"But wicked people fall due to their eyes, as it says (Bereishit 13:10): '...and Lot lifted his eyes and he saw the entire plane of Jordan.' This is Sodom. He left Avraham and went to Sodom in order to follow after their bad deeds. Regarding Balak, it says (Bamidbar 22:2): 'And Balak ben Zippor saw...' [and eventually sought to curse the Nation of Israel]."

We all have the G-d-given ability to choose. Every organ and limb can be used constructively, but it can also be used to degrade ourselves and destroy. The moral choice is ours.

Fortunately, we have several weapons at our disposal to help us choose to do the right thing. The combination of our awareness of Hashem (Yirat Shamayim, discussed on Day 11) and Wisdom of the World (the concept that we must be aware of traps in the world, discussed on Day 21) complement each other in the "battle of the eyes." These are powerful deterrents and they are even more effective when you realize who you are - the son of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.