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Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Transforming Darkness

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner
Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about Jacob having to run away from his brother Esau after he deceived Isaac into giving him the firstborn blessings instead of giving it to Esau. Jacob ran away to live with his uncle Lavan in the city of Charan.  The meaning of the word Charan is anger, our sages explain that it was a place that made G-d angry.  Additionally, Esau’s uncle was a swindler and an idol worshiper.  Yet, in this place, Jacob had most of his children and unlike Abraham and Isaac who each had a wicked child, all of Jacob’s children were righteous.  This begs the question, “How did Jacob manage to raise righteous children in such a negative environment?”

The commentaries tell us that that when Jacob lived in Charan, he didn’t just shield himself from the negative environment but he was actively involved in elevating and transforming the negativity to holiness and goodness. When one transforms negativity into goodness, he reaches a greater goal, than had there not been any negativity in the first place.  This then is the reason that only Jacob was successful in raising all his children to become righteous since his children were raised in this greater goodness which comes about through transforming negativity.  The lesson for us is how important it is for us to become involved in exerting a positive influence on our surroundings and the people with whom we come in contact.  (Based on the teachings of the Chabad Chassidic Mentors)

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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