No Title Yet, But that’s Ok…

A Parshah Thought – By Elazar Kohen

Ever read your horoscope? Ever follow what it says? Ever base your life on it? Ever sell your child on E-bay©®™ because of it? No? Why not?

Perhaps you yourself were sold on E-bay©®™ as a child.
Or perhaps you’re one of those conceited individuals that are simply too stubborn or too proud to take advice from someone else. Or perhaps you just simply believe that your fate – despite the penetrating astrological insights of others – isn’t determined by the workings of the zodiac but by the consequences of your actions; that YOU control your destiny. AKA free-choice.

But even if, for whatever reason, that happens to be the case, doesn’t it sometimes seem that there are some things that are just out of your hands? Certain things which seem to have been determined for you, without so much as a telegram consultation? What exactly happened to your choice?

Case in point:
You may be familiar with the story of great-uncle Esau. Apparently, he wasn’t the greatest guy. To say the least. In fact, we’re told that even since BEFORE day-one he had a strong natural predisposition for all things “idol”: kicking and screaming during every trip past their houses of worship. So can you really blame him? Didn’t seem like he had much choice in the matter…

And if you think about it for a minute, you’ll probably discover the same to be the case with you in your life.

Now I’m not saying that you have a thing for idol-worship or spend your waking hours dancing around a two-foot statue of Kermit-the-Frog, singing the alphabet song. But perhaps you’ll find that there are certain things in your life – certain inborn traits and dispositions that are kind of just … there. You happen to have blue-hair, blond-eyes and a propensity for taking candy from strangers…
Or any other natural tendencies you possess that often drag you places you probably shouldn’t go; or those innate characteristics that aren’t necessarily the most conducive towards getting things done – and not just your abnormally pathetic inability to solve Sudoku puzzles, but the really important things you need to accomplish in your life.

“Free-choice”, huh?

But then a bunch of Rabbis came along and cleared things up a little (while managing to make everything a lot more complicated):

Esau was never meant to be a bad guy. He just got a little distracted. True, he was born with strong evil inclinations, but his mission in life was precisely to take those negative traits and wrestle them to the ground; to suppress those negative urges and to live his life properly IN SPITE of those impulses.

Our lives aren’t always going to be simple. The question is how we will choose to conduct ourselves when the going gets tough.
To struggle is to live; to grapple in the mud and wrestle your enemies to the ground is (aside from being a nationally-televised event) a truly invigorating experience; one that breathes new life and spirit into our mundane, lifeless beings, and strengthens and fortifies our character. And when we learn to discipline ourselves through the suppression of our negative traits and characteristics, we empower ourselves with a new intensity and strengthened resolve in our ongoing battle for inner dominance.

Hurray! Sounds wonderful!
Yes, but … wouldn’t everything just be so much better if we simply didn’t HAVE to deal with all this to begin with?

I struggle to wake up; I struggle to bring myself to do what I have to do; I struggle to keep myself from doing what I shouldn’t; I struggle to continue the struggle, and I struggle to figure out why I even care about the struggle. (A word you’re probably sick of after struggling through this paragraph. I apologize.)

Wouldn’t things be so much simpler if we didn’t have these internal enemies to battle in the first place?
So how do we just get rid of these problems once and for all?

And the big answer to the great question is … you don’t.

Disappointing, isn’t it?

So yet more Rabbis came along and put it this way:

There’s no need for any solution. Because there’s no real problem to begin with.

Apparently, our reluctance to unreservedly accept the uglier side of our selves stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of just what our mission and purpose in life truly is.

Our self-worth doesn’t have to be evaluated in terms of inner perfection – perhaps our purpose is precisely to be found in the ongoing battle we wage within ourselves, every day of our lives.

We can’t necessarily change who we are; but we don’t have to. An integral part of our mission and our calling in life is precisely to wage this particular battle, and to subdue and suppress the urges and inclinations that threaten to throw us off track.
And each and every time we manage to refuse those impulses, and reject those unattractive traits which wrongly assert their influence on our lives, we allow the soul that lies beneath to break through and shine with all its brilliance.

As the Zohar puts it: “When the ‘other side’ is subdued here below, the glory of the Holy-One, Blessed-be-He rises above all … and this ascent is greater than all else.”

Which basically means:
Every time we deny an urge, resist a temptation, brush off a negative impulse and don’t allow ourselves to fall prey to the entrapments of the uglier sides of our personalities, we manage to shatter and break down the barriers that conceal our true nature and the nature of the world around us, and banish the darkness and negativity that threaten to prevent our true selves from rising to the surface.

Each and every situation is an opportunity to prove and reveal ourselves at that moment – to uncover the beauty and strength of our soul and reveal the inherent G-dliness that exists within us and within our world.

So is it fair? Not really.
Is it bad? On the contrary – it’s a chance and an opportunity that should be celebrated and cherished.
Lots of very nice things can be picked up off the ground, but only through the toil of chiseling away deep into dirt and stone will you discover and unveil the most precious gems.

Sometimes it’s better to have problems than to have all the solutions. They propel us to dig deeper and push farther; and we’ll never be satisfied until we fully, truly get there, because our situation is simply one that doesn’t allow us to. And that itself is the beauty of it all.

And in those moments of clarity — at the times when everything momentarily falls away and it all becomes crystal clear, we will find ourselves possessing something more powerful than we could ever have obtained otherwise: a strength infused with the incredible might and intensity of that light which defiantly struggled and broke through the darkness and obscurity.
This newfound energy will forever serve to provide us with the spirit and resilience to continue on the never-ending journey of self-improvement, and continually give us the incredible strength and vitality to triumph, every step of the way.

As for the whole E-bay©®™ thing – don’t worry, you’ll get over it.
Unless you don’t. Then maybe you won’t. But try to enjoy life anyway.

Happy Shabbat.


  • 2. Reader wrote:

    Excellent article! A very enjoyable read with insight and depth from a fresh perspective. A pleasant departure from the usual dull verbatim sicha “adaptations”. Nicely done!

  • 3. CHer wrote:

    Great article. A bit verbose, but everything was brought out very well. Keep up the good work.

  • 4. A brilliant essay from a talented writer wrote:

    I have been following your articles (this would be the third? Chazakah? Mazel Tov!) on this web site and I must say that I have been very impressed. Though your writings may lack the sophistication of say a Jacobson, or the more strict adherence to the points as they are presented in the sichas, as some of the other authors featured on this website and elsewhere – I believe that the unique style in which you present and take the (sometimes great) liberty to develop your ideas has a very attractive quality to many who would not ordinarily be found sitting down to learn a sicha, or even read the other articles for that matter.

    I think in the current article you managed to take the unique style and humor of the first, and the depth and brilliance you wrote with in the second, and merge them to make for an enjoyable, yet beautiful, read, with powerful lessons that make one walk away inspired.

    So, as this is your chazakah, I hope you will not only keep up the good work, but keep on growing in your amazing talents and continue to inspire.

  • 5. really great wrote:

    Wow, this is amazing! I just learnt the sicha that (i think) this is based on yesterday. It’s an amazing and very powerful sicha, but alot of the time I have trouble really applying sichas I learn to my life. This article really brought down the concepts in a very real way that i can relate to, and I really loved the style it was written in, it was pretty funny too! Thank you and keep it up!

  • 7. Isaac Moorvitch wrote:

    well well well
    Dear Elazar
    i have read ur last two articles also but this was the first oppurtunity to respond due to school and lack of hours in the day. i have one week left and then i am officially FINISHED!!!

    Firstly, do we really have freedom of choice? If God knows all, and the answer that WE the LITTLE WE are can change what was supposed to be to what we did which still means that we had no choice because that was what was supposed to be!!!

    how far are we supposed to dig remeber very few of us can actually cnvert our evil inclination to be good and if u have sinned before then most probably ur not the ONE just like me.

    thirdly, Shabbos starts in one hour and i have got to get ready so have a goood one
    shabbat shalom umivorach

    Isaac MT

  • 9. cool wrote:

    NICE! I think this is the best one so far (even though they’re all awesome)…very inspirational!

  • 10. Shalom S. wrote:

    Very inspirational and well written!!keep up the good work elezar! Hope i can one day meet you and discuss the depth in your article.

  • 11. chana wrote:

    you’ve really got what it takes to be a great writer!!
    keep up the good work

  • 12. shuulum wrote:

    i really liked your article, but…ok there’s no “but” it was really groovy, you rock my world!

  • 14. Deb wrote:

    Loved the article! Really enjoyed your perspective and thoughts on the parshah and the style of your writing. Looking forward to reading more articles in the future… ~DL

  • 15. 2 questions?? wrote:

    1. Who is this author, yes, i see his name is elazar cohen, is he a rabbi? Chabad house? Bochur? Stam a yungerman?

    2. No matter what the answer to the above question, why is this GUY not writing for CHABAD.ORG, this is perfect for it!??

  • 16. Judy wrote:

    Mr. Kohen,

    I would like to commend you on your wonderully written article. Your command of the english language is superb, and the clarity with which you convey deep and complicated concepts is truly a gift that I, and I hope many others, are very thankful for.

    I would also like to compliment the website for its choice in authors. As their are many articles written on the weekly Torah portions, the unique talent and styles you choose to feature on your site sets you apart from many other sites out there. Keep up the good work and please continue to bring us such wonderful material from such wonderful writers.

  • 17. DaMe wrote:

    Your ability to disseminate complex issues, reveal hidden meaning and set them out to us in a simplystic manner is outstanding! Having come from Europe, and been said in Polish it may possibly lose some in translation, but my Mother used to say “B”H, Hashem always broke up the big boulder and threw it at her a small piece at a time.“ Your clarity of presentation
    does just that – breaks up complex issues and presents them in an understandable and ”do-able”way. Keep on leading us!

  • 19. OPRAHKAFER wrote:

    I reread the whole thing. without having to reread any line twice!!
    its awesome!!.. keep them coming….


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