Midot Hayom 5770 Day 18: Netzach in Tiferet
[For] the fright, which Jacob caused Isaac, it would have been right to curse him. But he who trusts in Hashem will be exalted (Proverbs 29:25). [Isaac] blessed him, saying, “Indeed he shall be blessed” (Genesis 27:33) (Bereishit Rabbah 67:1).
What pressed Jacob to cross the stream at night? He saw the Accuser circulating among his camps, so he said, “I shall cross to the other side of the river . . . “ (ibid. 3:45a).
Does the opening Midrash argue with our matriarch, Rebecca? When she ordered Jacob to trick his father, he was concerned that his father would curse him. Rebecca assured her son that, “Your curse will be on me.” Why did she not respond with the Midrash’s answer that, “he who trusts in God will be exalted”?
It seems that there is a difference between a curse for tricking his father and a curse for frightening Isaac. Tiferet means balance, and when Jacob caused Isaac to be frightened, he disturbed Isaac’s Tiferet. Netzach in Tiferet insists that the person of Tiferet approach it as an eternal value that applies to all. The person of Tiferet cannot disturb someone else’s sense of balance.
Jacob’s Tiferet, which was part of his eternal definition, was disturbed when he frightened his father, Isaac. His trust in God gave him the potential to be exalted and protected from a curse, but, for the man of Tiferet, there had to be a meeting point between his merit – Heaven – and Isaac’s response, earth. Jacob’s eternal Tiferet demanded that absolutely every part of his life reflect the balance of Tiferet. Isaac, the one whose own Tiferet was disturbed, understood that he had to participate in the process and he blessed Jacob in order to protect him.
The person of Tiferet must not only refrain from actively disturbing someone else’s inner balance, he must not allow them to be disturbed in any manner because of him.
Jacob was willing to battle the Accuser, as the willingness to fight for what is eternally true is the other form of Netzach – victory. The battle had to be his own. He could not allow it to involve or affect the other people in the camp. Thus, he crossed to the other side of the river in order to battle the Accuser on his own.
When someone decides that he must change or accept new levels of religious observance, his decision will affect other people in his life. He will find that even as he is striving to develop his inner strength and Tiferet, that he is disturbing the Tiferet of others. He is not treating Tiferet as Netzach as an eternal value. A father decides to spend more time studying Torah, a mother chooses to attend more classes, or both parents decide to become stricter in their observance. We are concerned with disrupting our children’s lives when we move from one city to another, however we can forget that any change can be just as disruptive.
Netzach in Tiferet demands that even when we achieve new levels of wonderful growth, developing our inner beauty, we must be careful to pay attention to the impact of our actions on the people in our lives.
Have you made any changes over the past year that affected other people? Did you consider the impact of your decision?
Are you currently changing or considering changes that may impact your family and friends? Consider how to guide them through the changes.
Finally, consider the effect that your planned changes will have on you, and what you will have to do to maintain a sense of balance.