6 Shvat 5781 / Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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Different or Same?    

Different or Same?

A Rosh Yeshiva had nine sons; eight yearned for total-immersion Torah, while one wanted to go into business. What do you think life was like for this boy?


Are you more comfortable with people who are like you or different from you? I'm sure it doesn't surprise you that research shows we prefer people like ourselves. Psychologically speaking it makes sense that we prefer others who share our values, beliefs and way of life.
Have you ever wondered why it is that we seek sameness in others? The answer to this question might surprise you.
A spiritual leader (Rosh Yeshiva) of one of the top Yeshivas in the world has nine sons. Needless to say the Rosh Yeshiva himself is a brilliant Torah scholar whose sole interest in life is learning Torah. Almost all of the Rosh Yeshiva's time is spent studying and preparing his lectures. Even when he is at home with his family practically all of the conversation at the table is directly related to Torah learning.
Now imagine what it would be like for a son of this Rosh Yeshiva who wasn't created to learn all day. What is it like for him to live in such a family? He is surrounded by eight brothers and five brother-in-laws who eat sleep and breath the Torah and who aspire to be like his father. While he, on the other hand aspires to go into business.  What is he to do? This son, like his eight brothers and five brother-in-laws also wants to feel significant, loved and accepted by his father for that which he enjoys - working with his hands, listening to music and having fun with his friends.
It's been very challenging to say the least, for the Rosh Yeshiva. Never before did he have a son that wanted to leave the Yeshiva and work. Many learned people have tried to get through to the Rosh Yeshiva including his own wife. They've told him that he must give unconditional love to his son and show acceptance and approval for what will make his son happy. Then the boy will be able to settle down, get married and move on with his life. Unfortunately all of the effort has been for naught and the son is sinking more deeply into apathy and depression.
In the presence of his son, I asked the Rosh Yeshiva if he had ever had at least a passing thought to do something with his life other than learn. He told me something quite fascinating. He told me that he came from a bala batisha family, meaning that they had money. The Rosh Yeshiva's father was in business and he wanted his intellectually gifted son to join him. He told us that he and his father had even had arguments about this.
It did a world of good for the Rosh Yeshiva's son to hear that his father had actually had arguments with his own father about going to work. I "joked" with the son: "you see you're allowed to argue with your father!" Even the Rosh Yeshiva laughed.
Now there is something very interesting going on in this Divine Providence. I saw it when the Rosh Yeshiva told me that there was another part of his job that he didn't enjoy very much and that's been causing him a lot of stress. As head of the Yeshiva, he is expected to raise a million dollars a year to support the yeshiva. I thought to myself, " how in the world does a guy who has been learning Torah all his life raise a million dollars a year?”
Simple. He learned how to make money from observing his successful father.
The problem is that fund-raising is stressing him out. He's becoming sad and frustrated to be missing time this from learning Torah.
Now we can see more clearly why the Rosh Yeshiva needed a son who is excited to speak with people and do business. The son was sent to inspire his father to start using a part of himself that he disowned.  Once the two become realigned in a loving accepting relationship, the father can learn from his son how to feel more joy and fulfillment from  raising money for a worthy cause. While the son will be free to learn from his father how to believe in himself and pursue what is important to him despite what others think.
Father and son were put together to help each other and complete each other, but they couldn't do that while they were locked in opposition.
We actually need people who are different from us even more than we need people who are like us. That's precisely why men and women were created with radical differences in how they process emotions and what they make their priorities. This is G-d's way of insuring that marriage will be a source of growth for them both.
With a strong belief that everything is purposeful and by design one can see how literally everything fits together in meaningful ways.

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