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Dealing with my Crazy Uncle!

Thursday, 5 December, 2019 - 4:22 pm

Tit for Tat seems to be the current way of the world. I see it with my children, I see it in the repulsive world of politics, and I see it, sadly, sometimes within myself. We get easily “triggered”, our fragile egos get hurt, and instead of expressing restraint in our response, instead of being true to our core values and thinking things through before we explode, we choose to reciprocate to the “agitator” in-kind, fulfilling the bumper sticker prophecy “an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, we read about Laban swindling his nephew Jacob. As his employer, Laban cheated Jacob financially, mistreated him physically and, perhaps, most notably, he lied to him about marriage, giving him Leah, though promising him his beloved Rachel. Could any of us imagine having a solid agreement, working towards its outcome for seven years and then, without any guilt, the one who entered the agreement with us, reneging? The feeling of betrayal and hurt is unimaginable! Yet, Jacob, the Patriarch par excellence, didn’t respond to Laban on Laban’s terms, he responded to Laban on his terms, continuing to be a moral, devoted and ethical employee/son-in-law/nephew. I’m sure Jacob would’ve liked to reciprocate to his crazy uncle with a taste of his own medicine, but that wouldn’t reflect his values that were essential to Jacob’s character.  

Jacob paved the way.  

If we scream at our kids because they’re screaming, if we lie to our spouse because they’re lying, if we cheat our bother in law because he’s a cheat, if we’re nasty to our employer because they are nasty to us, we aren’t being thoughtful and Jacob-like. We can have grievances, we can certainly be frustrated and we could really want to let them have it, but then we must remember that we are the “congregation of Jacob”, we are the people who have been gifted with the ability to be in an adverse environment surrounded by the Laban’s of the world, and retain our Jacob soul, one that is uncompromising in its clarity and devoted to living soulfully.

In the words of President Eisenhower “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

May You guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May You protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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