web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Fractured Man, Whole Man

Front-Page-091313

A fisherman living near the banks of a river was making his way home one evening, exhausted from his long labors. As he trudged along the path, he dreamed of what his life might be like if he were suddenly rich. Just then, his foot brushed against a leather pouch. He picked it up only to discover it filled with small stones. Falling back into his reverie, he absent-mindedly began throwing the pebbles into the water.

“When I am rich,” he told himself, “I will live in a large house. I will have one servant to serve me food and another to serve me wine…”

He dreamed of a carriage lined with gold. Of fine clothes. Of herds of goats and sheep. On and on, a glorious image per stone until there was only a single stone remaining.

As the fisherman held the final stone in his hand, the last of the sun’s rays caught it and burst into a brilliant rainbow. His eyes widened as he realized that he held in his hand a valuable gem – and that he had been tossing away real wealth while dreaming of illusory riches that would never be his.

He fell to his knees in astonishment and despair.

A philosopher observing the fisherman would have recognized in his behavior and subsequent agony nothing more than an example of the human condition.

Each of us is made up of the real and the illusory, of the obtainable and the fanciful. More fundamentally, at our core there exists duality. Perhaps even contradiction. Whether we are at war with ourselves or maintain an uneasy compromise, our essential duality is a constant source of anxiety and disease in our lives.

How can it be otherwise? The duality is woven into the very nature of our being. We are corporal, like every other creature that walks the face of the earth, and spiritual, uniquely imbued with the dignity and divinity of our Creator. At each step of our lives we teeter and totter, seeking balance between these dual, often competing, facets of our nature.

At our best, we seek to imbue the natural with the spiritual, lending grace to the most basic of tasks, and to lend humanity to the divine, bringing holiness to our everyday lives. At our worst, we give in wholly to our most base instincts, seemingly powerless to find any balance with our better natures.

* * * * *

No moment in our lives is more rife with the tension of our duality than our confession on Yom Kippur. The process of repentance and its accompanying recitation of the confession – Vidui – shines a bright light on this essential contradiction of our nature.

On the one hand, Vidui is a singular manifestation of courage, creativity and spiritual and psychological strength. On the other, it is a powerful statement of self-defeat, a clear-eyed recognition of the pathetic nature of human frailty, inferiority and unworthiness.

The ability to repent, then, is not only at the core of our nature, it is the singular endeavor by which we can yoke the two aspects of our nature in an enduring balance.

Sincere and authentic repentance cannot exist but for the strength, ability and insight to accuse oneself not only of doing wrong but of possessing a nature that makes such failure inevitable. Vidui is an acknowledgement that our intentions and deeds are unworthy and tarnished, a shameful cry to Heaven that “I have sinned.”

Repentance is a merciless and boundless expression of self-accusation. However, the irony – and beauty – of this admission of necessary failure is wholly dependent on man’s unique spiritual capacity.

Without our inherent holiness, self-accusation would not only be impossible, it would be a futile and frustrating expression. It is only when we are cognizant of freedom that we can recognize guilt, fragility and temptation and then – only then – contemplate genuine repentance.

Even if it were possible, the Vidui experience would be meaningless without both aspects of our duality. Praise and shame in equal parts. Regret and recognition. All useless. All futile. Unless – unless we simultaneously have faith in our sacredness, in our creativity and goodness – the aspects of our being that allow us to repent, to be renewed and reinvigorated.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Fractured Man, Whole Man”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Kreshnik Berisha is not Jewish but played for a German soccer team - before joining ISIS.
German Man on Trial for ISIS Membership Played On Jewish Soccer Team
Latest Indepth Stories
Donny-Fuchs-medium

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

syria_stratfo

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Phyllis Chesler

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

Gas Pump

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

During the war, not once was Hashem’s name mentioned to the nation by Israel’s PM or gov’t officials

How many illegal Arab structures are there in the city? Why are they not being destroyed?

We did not win the war in Gaza because we are still captive to the concept of the 2 state solution.

Trapped in a false notion of power, America will lose the battle in the same way Israel now loses.

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true that 9/11 changed my life. There is evil in the world. Our grandparents were right.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

The only way for children to find a way back to the path is through parental love and understanding.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/fractured-man-whole-man/2013/09/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: