Blaming Society

We should strive to emulate Abraham and Isaac, who integrated their senses of self with values of Torah, rather than emulating Lavan who compartmentalized his values and the values of his surrounding society.

Print this page Print this page

The whole world was on one side of the ideological divide and Abraham was on the other. The world’s side, the side of multiple gods, was a world of divided selves. Abraham stood on the side of a world-view that insisted that, just as Hashem is One, man must strive for oneness. As Jews--both as individuals and as a nation--we are bidden to follow his example.

Only a moral lightweight like Laban can split himself into his public-self and his private-self, claiming that he is justified.  Ultimately, Laban, the Great Deceiver, succeeds only in deceiving himself. In time, Jacob sees Laban for what he is.

Jacob on the other hand, exemplifies Emet, the complete truth. He ventures into the world at large, even spending 20 years under Laban’s influence, but retains his unified self. The message he sends his brother Esav, with the message between the lines seen by Rashi, is “With Laban have I dwelled, and the 613 Mitzvot (commandments) have I kept.”  And when he finally arrives in Israel, he arrives Shalem--whole, undivided, one.

We are enjoined to reject the example of Laban, and to aspire to the examples of Abraham and Jacob. Each of us must acknowledge that we have one “I.” Our challenge as Jews is to align that “I” with the eternal values of the Torah.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Avraham Fischer

Avraham Fischer is a rabbi at Darche Noam Institutions.