Insights Into Daniel: Within Reach
“But Daniel gave to his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the officers that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8).”
Can we understand v’yasem as placing (not quite giving), as in Rebbe’s explanation of sim shalom? In some way, if the identity is placed within their reach, but they have to reach out and embrace it, it has the potential of being an even more powerful experience and transformation. Especially since they had no identity for three years and would likely be craving one. In some way, it is manipulating them to make it their own. More so than a gift.
When things (identities, roles…) are placed within our reach and we are made to believe that it is up to us to choose to embrace them, we are in fact in great danger if there is a vacuum to fill within us.
Daniel’s decision to place on his heart the resolve to not be defiled reflects his understanding that something “placed” becomes your own only if you place it on your heart ( as in vesamtem et devarai ele al levavechem), and that it is of primordial importance to define what it is we truly want to place on our heart, even if it is the resolve to not become corrupted. Or else, it is too tempting to reach out and grab what others have placed before us.