Parashat Toldot-Change the Channel
Confession: I have an ego. A big one. For some time I didn't know what to do about it. I really had to find a way to l'eggo my ego but didn't know how. And then I learned a valuable lesson- Instead of trying to 'fight' it, I kind of 'joined' it. You know who I learned this from? Esav HaRasha.
The Torah HaKedoshah describes to us in Parashat Toldot the birth of Esav 'And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esav.' Red means anger, it means rage, it means murder. The Midrash tells us that when Shemuel HaNavi went to appoint David HaMelekh to be King of Yisrael, he saw that David was of 'ruddy complexion'. He became frightened that David HaMelekh would become a murderer just like Esav. HaShem told Shemuel HaNavi that he should not worry. Esav killed violently and needlessly, David HaMelekh would only take a life to carry out the decisions of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Court) which were all just, fair and necessary.
We learn from the Midrash that, while we have basic personality tendencies, certain middot that we are born with, we have free will to choose how these tendencies will be manifested and how we use these middot. Esav's tendency towards bloodshed and murder led him down an evil path. David HaMelekh, on the other hand, was a warrior who would utilize his natural tendencies of 'killing' for elevated purposes.
Sometimes we think that since we were born a certain way that we can't change things about ourselves. Whether or not we can change doesn't matter—we should work with what we have. We can use the very traits that we feel inhibit us to help us thrive. I could use my inflated ego either to be condescending towards others or I could use it to feel like a Bat Melekh, HaShem's daughter, and to act in a more Sanuah, modest and elegant manner.
The Vilna Gaon writes, 'one should not go completely against his nature even if it is bad, for he will not succeed. He should merely train himself to follow the straight path in accordance with his nature.' We could take the effort we use to uproot our 'negative' traits into channeling those traits and using them in the right way. You feel that you are an angry person? Use that fire to teach Torah to others and that passion to do Missvot. Sometimes jealousy can get the best of you? Use that to be 'jealous' of those on a higher spiritual level so that you can strive to be like them-this is a healthy 'jealousy', and helps us move upwards. In this way, we don't have to constantly worry if we completely eradicated our middot, we know we have them but we are using them to our advantage.
HaShem purposely created us 'imperfect' so that we can fine tune our middot ourselves. If we were made perfectly, we wouldn't be put in this world, we would be Malakhim, angels, serving HaShem in Shamayim. Our Avodah is in this world, the only place we can fix up our middot is here. When we become aware of what our inborn tendencies are we can focus on how to direct them.
The Torah tells us that until age thirteen, Yaakov and Esav were pretty much the same-after all, they are twins. But one thing differentiates them from becoming the Sadik that Yaakov is and the Rasha that Esav is—the way they direct their middot. Be'ezrat HaShem may we become aware of our inborn tendencies and use these middot to elevate our Avodat HaShem and not to bring us down has ve'Shalom. In this way, may we perfect the world in preparation for the ultimate GEULAH, Amen!!
Wishing everyone a PERFECT Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh!
Inspiration and information from Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin