The confrontation between Yaakov and Eisav plays itself out in the headlines of our times.
Seeking direction in a misdirected world
- Pirkei Avos
Parshas Vayeishev — The Final Battlefield
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#1 by Keith Albers on December 20, 2008 - 11:34 am
Dear Rabbi Goldson,
Thank you for your article on this week’s Torah portion The Final Battlefield. With the contemporary…and the final…battleground of Jacob and Esau, so much of western civilization has lost sight of the first commandment and has worshipped the wrong gods: the quest of wealth for wealth’s sake, and those other things you mentioned in your article…”anything that is bigger, more powerful, and more complicated,the attraction to external grandeur at the expense of internal substance.” If we can still ourselves to be able to hear and heed the still small voice inside us, “the resilience of the human soul” will prevail. The Almighty is in charge. He is in control. His will be done. We must practice staying as close to Him as often as we can. Thank you, Rabbi, for your powerful spiritual support. Most sincerely, Keith Albers, Wildwood, MO.
#2 by David on December 20, 2008 - 1:48 pm
Bravo excellent article and enjoyable to read. The article has given me some direction in this time of confusion and desperation in my life. May I request clarification of the following quote?
“The blacksmith, however, has something of intrinsic value. His anvil and his tradecraft make his business solid and secure. Nothing can happen to them, so his livelihood is not in danger. In contrast to the flex dealer who may appear large and wealthy, the blacksmith is not threatened by the whims of fate, for possesses something that will certainly endure.”
As a corollary to today’s current events let’s say that the flax merchant, fully aware of the danger of a spark, encourages the importation of slaves or indentured servants from a foreign less wealthy culture to perform the blacksmith’s work at cut rate prices, thus driving the blacksmith out of business, and securing control of the blacksmith industry. The flax merchant would then be in the position to use the black smith business that it now owns to spark rival flax merchants and any independently owned black smith shops.
Isn’t that happening today with the auto bailout where conditions are set that require cutbacks on labor?
To illustrate my personal position, I am a high tech worker, with computer and network technician level skills. Soon after NAFTA was passed I was laid-off from my job as a help desk and network technician. Several departments were cut along with many people.
Since that time I have been attempting to continue my trade. However, the Dot Com bust was the final straw. I was laid off in 2001 along with over two-hundred and fifty others from a high tech job.
My career has been filled by illegal immigrants and H1-B visa types. Worker rights that took many years of desperate struggle to obtain are evaporating as big business circumvents local workers.
I have tried starting my own business with limited success. Due to the labor market schools have become filled and competition is high to obtain classes. I did earn an Associate of Science but could not find any work in the computer field. The work place has become very competitive and jobs increasingly require previous experience, even low level jobs. I have degenerative disc disease and cannot work as a laborer or anything requiring lots of bending and twisting.
I played the game, earned two college degrees, attended trade school for electronic technology, acquired on the job training and industry certification in telecommunications, and worked hard with diligence for corporations that promised a secure career path. I am not a great student, and have failed many times to achieve my goals. Once I earned my degrees and obtained industry experience I hoped that it would finally be alright. Not so. The battle against the black smith is relentless, cruel and merciless.
I am considering other career options and would like to start my own business. Going back to school is expensive and time consuming. I have already spend the major portion of my life in school and training for a career.
This latest round of job cutting and rising unemployment is nailing the lid on my coffin.
The only way out that I can see is to start my own business. I am wracking my brain and searching my soul for an answer. My actions have been stunted because I am paralyzed depression and despair. It is difficult to make decisions and the angst is unbearable.
Your article has provided me some inspiration and sparked my esprit de corps. Thank you and good luck.
#3 by torahideals on December 20, 2008 - 7:54 pm
I empathize with your struggles. Today’s economy is far more complex than it was in the days of blacksmiths and flax merchants. The underlying spirtual principles still apply, but the darkness of the world we live in will continue to deepen until the dawn of the messianic era.
I wish I had some practical advice to help you out of your predicament. The best I can offer is the observation that, as we enter the season of Chanukah, the echoes of the miracles of those times can have a very real effect upon us and the obstacles that we face. Sometimes all we can do is to hold on to our convictions that good will ultimately prevail over evil and that light will ultimately dispell the darkness. But that itself is a victory of infinite value.
In the meantime, may the Almighty grant you the blessings of success and the strength to persevere.