web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Middos: Central To All Avodas Hashem

The-Shmuz

Eliezer, the faithful servant of Avraham, was charged with finding a wife for Yitzchak. Knowing full well the gravity of his mission, he also recognized its difficulty. The woman he would choose was to be the mother of the Jewish People. The issue was: how to find her? Of the untold number of eligible women, how would he determine which was the right one?

The Torah tells us Eliezer’s system:

“And it will be that the maiden to whom I will say, ‘Please give me to drink,’ and she will answer, ‘Please drink, and I will give your camels to drink as well.’ She will be the one You have proven to be the wife for Yitzchak” (Bereishis 24:14).

Rashi explains this wasn’t an arbitrary sign; this was the determinant of the woman best suited to enter into the house of Avraham. A woman who was so giving that she would go out of her way to help a complete stranger, even by offering to care for his camels, was the one to be the wife of Yitzchak.

And that in fact is what happened. No sooner did Eliezer get to the well than he met Rivkah. He asked her for something to drink, and as the Sforno explains, he was astounded by her reaction. The speed with which she moved, the energy with which she ran to fill the jug of water, was amazing. Eliezer watched, mouth agape, as Rivkah ran back and forth, refilling her jug time after time, until he and his ten camels were sated. He knew he had found the right woman. So without even asking her name, without inquiring into her family, he betrothed her to his master Yitzchak.

 

Middos Are Only Part of the Package

The difficulty with this Rashi is that Eliezer used one limited criterion to find the perfect match for Yitzchak. Let’s grant that this woman had perfect middos and was truly a ba’alas chesed. But that is but one part of the person. Eliezer didn’t ask her about her religious beliefs. Perhaps she was an idol worshiper like her father and her brother. She might well have been a “stargazer,” as were many people living at that time. It seems Eliezer picked one limited focus to the exclusion of everything else, and in doing so, he took a great risk.

The answer to this question lies in understanding the centrality of middos in serving Hashem. When Hashem created the human, He made us of two distinct parts. There is a part of me that is preprogrammed to do everything that is good, right and proper. There is a full half of me that only wants to be generous, magnanimous, and giving. This is my neshamah, born of the highest elements in the cosmos. It yearns for a loving relationship with my Creator. And then there is another part of me: the nefesh ha’bahami. This part is the same living substance that occupies every animal in the world. It is made up of pure drives and instincts. It has no wisdom; it operates out of passions, appetites, and hungers. And it cares about nothing other than filling those hungers.

And so the human is comprised of two distinct, competing parts. These two elements manifest themselves in everything we do. One or the other is constantly gaining primacy over the person. The more I allow my pure neshamah to come to the fore, the stronger its urges and desires for greatness become. The more I give in to my animal instinct, the stronger it becomes.

When I see another person suffering, there is actually a battle going on inside me. Part of me cries out with that person. “What can I do to lighten his load? How can I help?” And part of me just couldn’t care less. There is a part of me that isn’t interested in him or anything else for that matter. All it cares about is fulfilling its needs and desires. Therefore, every situation in life is a test – a test to see which part comes to the fore, which part gains control over me.

 

What Rivkah Was Demonstrating

What Eliezer witnessed at the well was a human being who reached such a high level of perfection that he was awestruck. For a woman to run out, time after time, filling jug after jug of water for someone she didn’t know, was a complete act of selflessness. It demonstrated she had reached a fabulously high level of self-perfection.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


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 “Middos: Central To All Avodas Hashem

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.
State Dept Press Corps Shapes US Response to Netanyahu’s UN Speech
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

The-Shmuz

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/middos-central-to-all-avodas-hashem/2013/10/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: