Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayeitzei

Power To Choose

By Rabbi Pinchas Avruch

"But G-d came to Lavan the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, 'Beware lest you speak with Yaakov (Jacob) either good or bad.'...And Lavan awoke early in the morning; he kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them, then Lavan went and returned to his place." (Beraishis/Genesis 31:24; 32:1)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1) notes that Lavan's return to his "place" is not simply a geographic reference; it speaks to his psychological return to his long-held corrupt values. Even though he experienced a personal Divine revelation, the experience did nothing to improve his character or impact him in the slightest. How could such a profound experience simply fail to sway him?

Lavan appreciated that as G-d instructed him not to perpetrate evil toward Yaakov, He neither actively withheld Lavan's freedom of choice nor prevented him from taking any specific action. Ultimately, Lavan retained his power to decide for himself. And while he chose to follow this particular Divine directive, his deeper understanding of his freedom to pursue evil prevented this experience, great as it was, from making any impression.

There are two thoughts that eternally run through the minds of most: "Why must there be evil in the world?" and "I would be a better person if only G-d would express clearly what to do with my life". G-d created evil because it is only through evil that creation has purpose: without it there is no "choice" in the world, no reason to want to do anything but fulfill G-d's will. But such service would be empty and devoid of meaning. G-d's essential expression of kindness in creation is His allowance for us to foster a relationship with Him and grow in our G-d consciousness through fulfillment of the mitzvos (Divine commands) of His Torah while resisting the tug of the Yetzer Hara (2) to do otherwise (3). And Lavan demonstrates that, with a properly functioning Yetzer Hara, even a personal audience with the Master of the Universe that brings a complete cognizance of the Divine mission of humanity, a person has the prerogative and power to squander the opportunity and sully the relationship.

Or not to.

Have a Good Shabbos.

(1) 1895-1986; Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem in New York City; the leading Halachic/Jewish legal decisor of his time and one of the principal leaders of Torah Jewry through much of the last century
(2) the evil inclination: Satan's personal tampering with one's thoughts creating temptation to sin and do wrong
(3) see Kol HaKollel Vayishlach 5763 (www.torah.org/learning/kolhakollel/5763/vayishlach.html)


Text Copyright 2004 by Rabbi Pinchas Avruch and Torah.org.

Kol HaKollel is a publication of The Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish Studies 5007 West Keefe Avenue Milwaukee, Wisconsin 414-447-7999


 

ARTICLES ON BALAK:

View Complete List

Storm On The Horizon
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Bilaam's Obsession
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Jewish Dwellings
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

> Making Time
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767

The Parah Paradox
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Bilaam was a 'Spiritual' Man
Rabbi Label Lam - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Friendly Enemies
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

Sorry for Nothing
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

G-d Doesn't Play Games
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Segulot of Mitzvot
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Our Achilles' Heel
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Remember Balak's Role
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

ArtScroll

Don't Take it Personally!
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

'Balak' Magic
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Have Faith!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Symbolism Over Substance
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information