0 Posted by - July 20, 2016 - Bamidbar, Parsha

EXTENSIONISM

Parashat Pinhas

When asked by a client how many sessions he needs in order to see lasting change, I am always faced with a dilemma. Usually, in the first session alone, my client can see the truth and achieve clarity. Changing perspectives, reframing, calms people down, and they feel after a first session that they are ‘good to go’. But, unfortunately, it is not that easy. Coaching is a process, because change is a process. It is not just a switch in the mind. It is a switch in the heart.

It has been said that the greatest distance in the world is between one’s heart and one’s mind. Between וידעת היום , and והשבות אל לבבך. Our lifelong duty of Middot mastery, refining our character traits, is a persistent, uphill battle. Although we may understand and recognize the truth, that is possibly only an intellectual achievement, not an emotional one. To change on an emotional level, on a behavioral level, to change one’s habits, is much more difficult than just changing how you think or what you focus on. It has been said, that it is easier to finish Shas than it is to change one Middah, to improve on one characteristic. Because the deeper the change, the harder.

Let us take jealousy for example. The way out of jealousy is not just belief in G-d. Because jealousy is not an intellectual issue, as much as it is an emotional issue. Even if someone believes in G-d, he may not have the inner strength to control jealousy on the emotional level. This is why great men, even as great as Moshe Rabbenu or King David, were susceptible to jealousy. This is something we can learn from the parasha.

The Gemarah, in Sanhedrin 105b, teaches that a person is jealous of everyone except his own son or student. The fact that King David was blessed by the people that his son, Shlomo, would have a greater kingdom than his own, proves that a father is not jealous of his own son. The proof that one is not jealous of his student is from Moshe. When Moshe inaugurated Yehoshua, G-d commanded him to do Semicha with only one hand. But, Moshe gave semicha to Yehoshua, using both hands. (The Maharsha teaches that one hand would be giving Yehoshuah Gevurah, strength, and the use of Moshe’s additional hand gave Yehoshua Hochma, wisdom.) Why did Moshe give more than he was commanded? Because he was not jealous of his student, Yehoshua.

Three questions. How could we assume that it would be possible that such great prophets as Moshe and K. David, to even think, even for a minute, that what was given to someone else was not given by G-d? How can we bring proof, from these two giants, that a regular person, like you and me, can control himself and prevent himself from being jealous of a son or student? And how does being a son or student affect the jealousy issue?

The answer to the last question is obvious. A son or student is perceived as an extension of the self. In order for one to deal with jealousy properly, one needs to look at the other person as some sort of extension of oneself. If not, one cannot overcome the emotion of jealousy. Your right hand is never jealous of your left hand. Each one has its functions, and they work together in harmony. If you look at the people in your life as an extension of yourself, that you are all one, the jealous feeling dissipates. I call it Extensionism.

The only thing that could inspire jealousy in these men was being close to G-d. On an intellectual level, both Moshe and David definitely knew that what was given to Yehoshua and was given to King Solomon was accorded them from G-d; but, on an emotional level, they might have otherwise had an inner struggle. Of course, they would have overcome the jealousy, had they been faced with it, but the Talmud is telling us that they never faced jealousy, because a son or a student is an extension of oneself. A concept that can be applied to all of us.

Imagine how our nation would look, if we felt that we were all “extensions”. That we are all responsible for each other, that the love we have for each other is as a father loves his son, or as a Rabbi loves his student. If we did this switch of heart, we could just possibly bring down the Third Temple…

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