A G-D Like I.D.

0 Posted by - February 11, 2014 - identity, Parsha, Shemot

A G-D Like I.D.

Parashat Ki Tisa

husbands believe that if they were richer, their wife would respect them more. If they could outsmart people, outdo her siblings or her friend’s husband, then their wife might love them more. There is no greater mistake a husband can make. A woman wants one thing from her husband. Sometimes she, herself, does not know what it is. Listen closely to a conversation of our ancestors. Here is the secret.

When our childless Matriarch, Rachel, desperately wanted a child, to be a Mother of the Tribes of G-d, she said to Yaakov, Give me sons, and if not, [it’s as if] I am dead. Yaakov’s angry response was, Am I in the position of G-d, that I held back children from you?! R Y Davis zt”l, Rosh Hayeshiva of Mountaindale Yeshiva asked, “What is going on in this conversation? Why is she addressing him as if he were G-d, and why is Yaakov answering that he is not? It sounds ridiculous, definitely not a conversation suitable for our Ancestors. The answer is, every woman looks to her husband for support, emotional, physical and financial, as if he were G-d. If he gives her that support, she will love him. If not, she will belittle him. The secret of husbands who get their wife to genuinely love and respect them is that they are G-d-like. Anything resembling G-d will do. Yaakov was the most G-d-like a husband can be. He was even given a name from Heaven with G-d’s name in it. Yisrael. Rachel, out of her tremendous pain, poured out her anguish to Yaakov. And Yaakov answered, “I may be G-d-like, but I am not G-d. I can’t give you a child.”

What does  it mean, to be G-d-like? How on earth are we husbands supposed to know?

I found that there are certain “things” that make people feel cool. This is a central concern in marketing. Steve Jobs knew math. People want to feel cool. Innovative and Creative is cool. Different is cool. An Identity is cool. Not caring what other people think is cool.  Infinite information at your finger tips is cool. All this equals iPhone, iPod and iPad. They look different and work different. “i” is innovative; it’s identity. Steve got people wearing white headphones (free advertising for Steve), using different formats, accessing unique concepts (all, Apple products). If you are Apple, you are operating on a different  OS. That’s cool. Steve knew what people identify with. And he sold them their identity. People will pay all the money they have for identity. And people like innovativeness. So, cool is creative, independent, and different. Steve knew that “no competition” is cool, and his products were uncompetitive. Does “no competition” sound G-d-like to you? Is there any being more creative than the Creator? Is there any being more independent or “different” than G-d? Does anyone have information available as G-d does? It seems as if Steve knew the elements of being cool, but he might not have known why these things as “cool”. And, Steve knew how to give an iPhone identity to an unidentified generation.

We live in a UFO generation. UFO –unidentified floating objects. People float till you slap an identity sticker on their back. Is your identity your career? Or maybe it’s the Sport team you are a fan of? Or is it the school you are in? Ever heard “It’s just not me. I can’t see myself doing it”? Well, who are you, anyway?  It is amazing how people do not even think about something so personal and crucial in decision making as establishing consciously who they are. Or maybe people gave up guessing. A woman likes to see in her husband an anchor. An identity. And the supreme identity is a G-d like identity.

There is actually a mitzvah to be G-d-like.  Rambam (De’ot 1;6) tells us that it is a mitzvah to emulate G-d’s ways  .והלכת בדרכיו  (Devarim 28; 9) .ללכת בכל דרכיו (Devarim 10; 12) To go in His ways. “What are the ways of G-d?  רחום וחנון… G-d is loving. He is merciful. He acts with grace. He does kindness to people, without payment. “מה הוא אף אתה  Just as He is, so should you be…” (Sifri Devarim 14)” Anything associated with G-dly behavior is something we should try our best to emulate.  And be G-d- like. ×–×” א-לי ואנוהו  This is my G-d and אנוהו . The Talmud explains this to mean אני והוא , I am like Him. I will be like Him. (Shabbat 133a) The Thirteen Attributes in this week’s parasha is a good place to start learning how to be G-d-like.

–ה’ ×”’  He loves you after your sin just as before. Does someone who is cool take things personally, change his relationship with you after you slighted him? Not stressed is cool. Is G-d stressed? He is ארך אפים, slow to anger.  Generally speaking, people who take things easy are people with identity. They know where they are coming from. And they know where they are going. They have a goal and a purpose. Their identity is not a brand name, a phone, the car they drive. Their success is not measured relative to the success or failures of others. These are people of truth, not caring how their truth is perceived by others. Real men. Beware of counterfeits. Some people confuse being G-d-like with being G-d. They can’t lose an argument. Can’t get emotional. Can’t admit a mistake. “My way or the highway”.

We say in our prayers, אתה גבור לעולם ×”’. You are mighty forever, G-d. A man, in our Holy Tongue, is called גבר .  Some husbands think this means that their wife wants someone mighty. Someone who is stronger than others. No one can put him down. That is not what we are referring to in Amidah when we refer to G-d as גבור. The Might, there, is referring to G-d’s ability to watch over one sheep, the Jewish nation, amongst 70 wolves, the nations of the world. How have we survived, all this time? One of the wonders of the world. We have a Father who watches his Children, and takes responsibility for them.(Yoma 69b) Does a woman want someone who will be responsible for watching her children? Or does she want a hero, a counterfeit G-d?

King Solomon, wisest of men, told us, טוב ארך אפים מגבור ומושל ברוחו מלוכד עיר Better one who has slow to anger than the mighty warrior, and better one who rules his spirit than one who captures a city. (Mishlei 16 32) Why did King Solomon call him “capturer of city”, and not “mighty” or a “warrior”? Because there are three types of גבור, three types of “mighty”. The lowest level is relative: he is stronger than someone else. The other person was weak, so he overcame him. Competitive sports –  baseball, basketball, tennis, etc., -taught us that in order to “win”, you need to outdo someone else. It’s only a game, but it teaches the subconscious rules for life. Is your success in life standing on the loser’s shoulders? How am I supposed to know if I am successful, if I am not beating someone else? Where should I get my self-worth from, if I don’t win, if I am not the best, if I don’t get the highest mark, if I am not in first place? This is counterfeit might. It isn’t the real גבור; it is just a capturer. The truly mighty person, the warrior גבור, is the second level. He is mighty, not relatively, but in essence.

And then, there is the elite גבור. The כובש את יצרו, who captures his inclinations, temptations and emotions, to do what he knows he’s supposed to do. He rules his emotions and does not allow them to make him stray from his goals. He is the strongest, having no need to feel successful relative to others, because he has purpose and identity. His values are clear and in order of importance.  He knows what is important in life, and he is in his life’s journey. He can overlook an insult, because he knows who he is. The insult is just a rock in the road, along his journey to what’s important. He doesn’t need confirmation in order to go on; so when he doesn’t get it, but gets an insult, it just rolls off his back. He’s got places to go, and is unstoppable.

If G-d prays, what does He pray for? יהי רצון מלפני שיכבשו רחמי את כעסי ויגולו רחמי על מדותי ואתנהג עם בני במדת רחמים ואכנס להם לפנים משורת הדין  May it be the Will before Me, that My Mercy will overcome My Wrath, and My Mercy will supersede my Attributes of Justice and that I behave with My sons with Mercy… (Berachot 7a) When G-d wins this “inner” battle, He is the Mighty. This is the Might that G-d wants us to copy. Those who come early enough ask, in Shacharit, that G-d have mercy on us just as Avraham overcame his inner battle to bring his son on the altar. כמו שכבש אברהם אבינו את רחמיו לעשות רצונך בלבב שלם   Overcoming his inner battle carries more merit than bringing his son on the altar. Because it is more G-d-like to overcome emotion, for a greater  purpose.

It is almost a sin to squeeze this thought into 1600 words. It has to do with the deepest point of any thinking human being. To be continued…

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