By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
I have been thinking about this week's Torah Portion all week. It is an important one in my life. When I read this some 26 years ago, I finally got the concept that Torah and Judaism were relevant in my life. Jacob wrestles with a man, an angel, his conscience—whatever you want to call this "Dark Night of the Soul" that is described in the Torah. I realized, sitting in a prison cell, that this was my challenge; live a life of meaning through Torah or continue to be a criminal and live a vapid life.
This is still the challenge I wrestle with each day. The challenge is greater and the wrestling not as pronounced and, yet more profound. We live in a world of smoke and mirrors. We live in a world where Truth has little relevance. Whatever we can sell to another, a community, a country, a world is all that matters. Looking at the entire picture of life, of a particular situation and coming together as a group to share our visions and wisdom is not valued anymore. Yet, what else matters but Truth?
At the core of every human being are certain needs: the need to be connected, the need to make a difference, the need for meaning in one's life and the need for Truth. The story of Jacob is our story because it is messy! Our lives are messy! Yet, we keep trying to package life in a nice box and tie it up with a bow. WRONG! The story of Jacob is the story of always wrestling with our higher/Divine self and our lower/animal self. This is not a flaw; it is how we are hardwired, as I learned from Rabbi Abraham Twerski in his book, Growing Each Day.
I do not get to "inner peace" often. I am always trying to live from my higher self while still trying to incorporate and satisfy my lower self. Neither one is all good or all bad, according to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and I agree with him. It is how we use our different traits and parts. I may be envious of people who can meditate and relate to the world with equanimity; I am not sure and am open to this possibility. My life has been and continues to be one of struggling with my parts and I do not look at the world, events and life with equanimity, I have beliefs and passions that drive me. Neither way is right or wrong, it is acknowledging Truth that is important.
The reason I bring this up is that for a while I have been feeling like there is something wrong with me! Well, there is, however, I felt I was defective because I could not reach and stay in this state of Nirvana. What Jacob's story reminds me is that there is nothing wrong with me, I just get and stay mindful in a different way than others.
We have to find our path in life and I believe that being ADDICTED TO REDEMPTION both allows and forces me to constantly confront myself and ensure that I live 51% from my higher self, integrate all my parts, and be in acceptance of my path.