Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Patriarchs, Sin & Uplifting Character Traits

This is from Artscroll's Oznayim LaTorah: Insights in the Torah Deuteronomy portion. Page 126, Chapter 9, verse 27. I really like the interpretation R' Sorotzkin offers here:

כז זְכֹר, לַעֲבָדֶיךָ--לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק, וּלְיַעֲקֹב: אַל-תֵּפֶן, אֶל-קְשִׁי הָעָם הַזֶּה, וְאֶל-רִשְׁעוֹ, וְאֶל-חַטָּאתוֹ.27 Remember Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin;
As explained in the Artscroll: Do not turn to the stubbornness of this people, and to its wickedness and to its sin. Through the merit of the three holy Patriarchs, Moses prays "Do not turn" to three things: by the merit of Abraham, who used the trait of stubbornness to fight idolatry, "do not turn to the stubbornness of this people"; by the merit of Isaac, who willingly bared his neck to the slaughtering knife, "do not turn to its wickedness," the iniquities willfully committed; and by the merit of Jacob, who suffered troubles and exile all his life, "do not turn to its sin," those sins committed unintentionally (for exile atones for unintentional sins). This is why the three items are listed from the most serious fault down to the least serious one, although one would expect the opposite for they are listed in the order of the Patriarchs they correspond to.

~

This explanation follows my favorite theme of how one can uplift and channel one's character traits in order to serve God in holiness. And I think it's a really interesting understanding of how precisely each Patriarch helps to counter the people's actions.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

If that's the meaning imho it's worth considering the gemara in yoma 35b that says that those who excuse not learning torah due to poverty will be rebuffed by Hillel's example, wealth by Rebbi elazar etc.

Thus it might not be best to bring up examples of those who were successful in channeling their midot (as called for in the gemara shabbat 156a) in defence of those who don't.

KT
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

There is a discussion about Josephויק"ר, ל"ב. ה' "יוסף ירד למצרים וגדר עצמו מן הערוה ונגדרו ישראל בזכותו

It's as if Joseph brought the skill of modesty to the world, thereby providing coverage to those who would need it in the future.

It may be the same for the Avot.


BR

Anonymous1:45 said...

I just read some of your blogs from the past week and am responding to two of them here. First, in response to your blog titled 'Please Lets Dodge The Train'. Listen to the song By Josh Turner 'Long Black Train'. I think it adresses some of the themes in this blog and is a beautiful song anyway perhaps it might help. Second, about your blog titled "A Light Onto The Nations'. You are definitely correct. See Yeshayahu 42: 6-7 where we are explicitly prophesied as being Or La'umim; Also see Yeshyahu 60: 2-3. Also, Hashem describes us as 'Goy Kadosh' and 'Am Sgulah' along with 'Mamlechet Kohanim'. That is, the two go together. It is inherent in our charge as Goy Kadosh and Am sgulah, for us to be Mamlechet Kohanim. To whom? To the rest of the nations that are Hashems children. If we are good Jews and do so besever panim yafot, then we are doing Kidush Hashem. If we do not then we are doing Chilul Hashem. The only question arises with where to draw the line and how to protect oneself from assimilation; but that we are charged by Hashem with being a light onto the nations is indisputable. just as Avraham Avinu brought light to the worl so must we. Those who have mistaken ideas should look to sefer Yonah where Hashem sends...continued...

Anonymous1:45 said...

Hashem sends Yonah to save a people who would, 70 years later, destroy Beit Hamikdash, Murder and brutalize scores of Jews, and exile the Jewish people (which is why Yonah tries to run away as a prophet who knows this). Also see Yonah 4: 10-11 - All of Hashems children are precious to him and as Am sgulah it is our charge to help all nations be closer to God, Obviously to do so we must be close to God. Also, just as a matter of historical fact, this has always been true. Just look at the percentage of jewish nobel prize winners and at all the inventions, discoveries, and beauty that have come to the world through Jews (and this is only through those that we know are Jews, as most of Am yisrael is still out there since the religion is passed down from the mother thus there are still all the shvatim who are Jews and no one knows who these people are), so historically we have been Or La'umim. This is a great kidush Hashem; sweeping generalization though it may be, the fact is that when a Jew does a good or kind or wonderful thing, people say the Jews are a blessing and people are drawn closwer to God. When the opposite happens, people say "look at these Jews and are pulled further from God. So we are and are charged with being a light onto the nations. The Only issue is with assimilation, and that is the reason that some don't like this. But it is a falsehood. Being a loght onto the nations does not require assimilation; in fact historically it is when assimilation occurs that people hate Jews (From Mitzrayim to Hitler) and it has historically been the case that when Jews are good Jews and close to God and act as Or la'umim that Kidush Hashem and blessings for the world occur.

coby@israel said...

wow, this explanation is just beautiful. as always english translation is not very good. to be exact it says- רִשְׁעוֹ i would translate as agngriness, though its also not really correct...

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