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Navigating Love and Fear - Toldos

Have you ever noticed how we're often our own harshest critics? At work, we recently had a seminar about a modality of therapy called Internal Family Systems. One aspect I related to was a scenario where a child was very critical of themselves as a defense mechanism so others couldn't hurt them. IFS explains that a person can use their defenses for the positive once it is not needed anymore. For example, a person can use their critical nature to be compassionate and speak affirmations towards themselves and others.

Based on the Parsha of Vayeira, the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote in Likkutei Sichos that Avrohom embodied the attribute of love and Yitzchak embodied the attribute of fear. He wrote that when Avrohom dug and filled wells, eventually, they dried up. The wells couldn't just have one attribute and needed the attribute of fear to exist. In this week's parsha, the Rebbe wrote in Likkutei Sichos that fear exemplifies humility, and Hashem connects with fear more than love. The reason is that humility stems from if a person fears something and will do or exist primarily for that thing; there is no room for other things.

After reading and learning about these things, I felt conflicted. I didn't find myself inspired to learn about fear being more powerful. When it comes to action or motivation, it's easier to resonate with love rather than fear. I like the idea of positive activities or actions, and I try to make positive affirmations towards myself instead of being critical. However, just like the wells that dries up without love and fear, our personal growth also requires a balance between the attributes of love and fear.

After a few days of contemplating this idea, my friend and I were studying Tanya, and I came up with a parable based on what the Alter Rebbe had written. Let's consider weight loss; you can do something positive for yourself, such as exercising (positive action), or you can refrain from eating unhealthy foods to promote weight loss (negative action). Instead of thinking in terms of good and evil or black and white, we should focus on how both positive actions and refraining from negative actions can lead to favorable outcomes. Although it feels good to be positive, using restraint can also be viewed positively. By willingly utilizing both love and fear, we can continue to build an authentic and long-lasting connection with ourselves and others.

Good Shabbos

All the best

Avroham Yehudah Ross

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