Friday, June 17, 2011

Is Isolation a Sign of Strength?

A Guest Post By E. Fink

I once heard a great (and surprising?) vort from R' Elya Meyer Bloch (Telshe Rosh Yeshiva) on a verse in this week's parsha.

וּרְאִיתֶם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, מַה-הִוא; וְאֶת-הָעָם, הַיֹּשֵׁב עָלֶיהָ--הֶחָזָק הוּא הֲרָפֶה, הַמְעַט הוּא אִם-רָב

Rashi explains that if the cities are walled then you know that the inhabitants are weak but if they are not fortified it means that they are strong.

Rashi's insight is interesting. Appearances can be deceiving. A wall might intimidate or make its inhabitants seem imposing. But in reality they are weak. One who is strong does not need to hide behind walls.

Says R' Bloch, this lesson can be applied to how we live our lives. If we are so insulated that we are living behind literal and figurative walls it does not demonstrate strength. Rather it demonstrates weakness. We need to be strong and fearless in our avodas Hashem that we do not need or desire artificial boundaries to "protect" us from the rest of the world. Real strength and real avodas Hashem create the kind of internal strength that is able to maintain our Jewishness without creating barriers, walls and isolating ourselves.

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