Yes You Can!
I was so angry this morning after I caught someone I love lying to me and manipulating me that I almost couldn’t write this blog. All the calm feelings and even-keeled sentiments needed to compose an inspiring article were nowhere in reach except perhaps at the bottom of a bottle of kosher wine. But it’s only 10 a.m. and still twenty minutes too early to start drinking. So what do you do when those you trust let you down? Do you close your eyes? Do you open them ever-wider? Do you start an all-out war and put them in their place? The truth is I have no answers for this today except to look into the biblical teaching of the week and hope something applies to me. Turns out this week’s portion speaks of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. How apropos because I’m ready to come down like a wrecking ball on this friendship of mine as the betrayal is sticking in my throat like a stubborn long spiky fish bone which won’t come up and won’t go down. So, I’m with God when He says He is going down to visit this sinning town and wipe it out. But then the words of Abraham come to quantify the wrath and he starts negotiating with God asking if He would save the cities if even only 50 good men could be found and the Good Lord concedes. Abraham keeps whittling away at the number until he is assured that S&G will be saved even if only 10 good men could be found in their midst. And so I too am forced to start assessing what redeeming qualities can be found in my friend. I’m further reminded of the Talmudic teaching that says a person was created with two eyes so that with the left eye (which represents judgment) he should look at himself to find his own faults and work on eliminating them; and with the right eye (which represents mercy) one should look upon others with compassion and kindness. For certain, since love is blind, when it comes to ourselves we only see perfection; yet when evaluating others in our lives we have 20/20 vision. But I think the deeper lesson here is what we tend to focus on, be it the good or the bad, will grow and will change us. They say every single thing has a negative and positive aspect to it and the one that will dominate is the one you “feed” the most. If I focus on the “lie,” then from now on every sneeze my friend makes will be subject to my analytical scrutiny and to my second guessing. In the process, I become the ugly one, the one who becomes obsessed with deviousness even as I try to dodge it, whereas the great Patriarch Abraham focused only on the good, even in the vilest of places. In this same biblical portion we also read about Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, who in thirsty despair focused only on the parched desert around her and therefore did not see that a well was right beside her too. Friends, despite these great biblical lessons, this is one of those situations where personally, I just don’t know where to look. So in the meantime, I’m looking for the corkscrew.