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Midot Hayom 5770 Day 13: Yesod in Gevurah

“It happened after these words,” (Genesis 22:1) – after Ishmael’s words to Isaac. Ishmael said to Isaac, “I am greater than you in [the performance of] Mitzvot, for you where circumcised at eight days, whereas I [allowed myself to be circumcised] at the age of thirteen years.” [Isaac] replied, “you intimidate

me over one limb? If the Holy One, Blessed is He, were to tell me, ‘sacrifice yourself [i.e., your whole being] before Me’ I would do it.” Thereupon God tested Abraham with the binding. (Ibid.) (Sanhedrin 89b).

What was wrong about Ishmael’s argument? Surely it was more difficult for him to be circumcised at 13 than it was for Isaac as an eight-day-old baby.

Isaac answered Ishmael by saying that he would willingly give up his entire being for God, meaning that he would act now, at 37 years old, just as he did as an eight-day-old, with full awareness that he has no choice but to obey. God as Creator is the Source of All Existence. Isaac’s life belongs to God.

Isaac used his free choice to choose that he belonged to God. He was focused on the source of his existence, his Yesod.

We understand and appreciate the power of Bechira – Free choice. We must choose to act and serve and not serve only from habit or because we were raised to do so. However, Yesod in Gevurah is to achieve such clarity of God as the Only Power, and as the Source of our existence, that we choose to realize that we ultimately do not have a choice. Awareness of the Source of our existence demands that we obey God.


Begin the day by articulating, “I choose to pray.” “I choose to learn.” “I choose to wrap Tefillin.” “I choose to recite a blessing.” This will add the element of choice, or Din, to all you do,

Once you have made this a day of choice, begin saying, “I have no choice but to obey the Source of all Existence.”

Review the following constantly throughout the day: “God is the source of all Power,” even the power to choose.

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