December 5, 2019 / 7 Kislev, 5780 • Parshat Vayeitzei
Issue 591
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Laban said to Jacob, "The children are my children and the flocks are my flock."

Bereishit 31:43

Modernity in Perspective

Allegorically, Laban is the perennial voice within us and without us that seeks to oppose spiritual life. "You belong to the old generation," he says, "so it's okay for you to be old-fashioned and live life Jewishly. But why should the new generation adhere to your outdated rituals? These children live in the modern world and should be raised in the spirit of progress!

"And even you yourself should be spiritual and religiously observant only in your own personal domain. But when you are outside, pursuing your livelihood, you must leave behind the Torah's moral and ethical standards of behavior. Otherwise, how do you expect to compete in our ruthless world?"

Our proper response to Laban's claim is the same as Jacob's: to ignore it, denying its validity.

Although materiality may appear to be the domain of Laban alone, it is in fact very much part of G-d's domain. Our mission is to elevate it and sanctify it by conducting our affairs in accordance with the Torah's lofty expectations of us.

From Kehot's

Daily Wisdom #2