Children of Kindness - and Discipline
The parshah is called Toldot, both in reference to Yitzchak Avinu’s children – Yaakov and Eisav – and his more spiritual “children,” the lessons he left us enabling us to follow in his ways. Our forefather Avraham embodied the idea of kindness, while Yitzchak embodied discipline and severity. While Avraham called out to the rest of the world to learn and develop a divine awareness, Yitzchak focused inward, working on developing spiritual strength. He dug wells of water, uncovering his own sources of water. While Avraham worked on bringing the word of G-d down to all the people around him, Yitzchak worked on himself, i.e. elevating humanity toward G-dliness.
We need chessed, as embodied by Avraham. But without the gevurah of Yitzchak, any spiritual strides don’t last. We are who we are today, children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, only because we have inherited both of these concepts together – kindness with discipline.
Continuing along these lines, here’s another powerful lesson for life that really resonated with me: the possuk reads, “And these are the descendants of Isaac son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac.” Both names are repeated twice. However, while Abraham is repeated twice in a row, the second mention of Isaac is separated from the first by five words. And interestingly enough, elsewhere in Tanach, there is repetition of both Avraham’s and Yaakov’s names consecutively (i.e. “Avraham, Avraham” and “Yaakov, Yaakov”) but not Yitzchak’s. This is because of the concept mentioned before – while Avraham symbolizes chessed (kindness), and Yaakov symbolizes tiferes (harmony/beauty), Yitzchak symbolizes gevurah (severity/discipline.) All three midos are very necessary. Kindness without discipline helps no one, but no matter what, it’s never necessary to use a double-dose of discipline. It should always be broken up with kindness in between.
(Sources: Likutei Sichos and Likutei Levi Yitzchak, as adapted in the Kehot Chumash.)
Pens used: Speedball C3 nib in Higgins black ink, Pentel brush pens
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