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When Jacob returned to Israel after twenty-two years of being a minority in the city of Haran, where his uncle Laban lived, he said “I sojourned with Laban . . . and I acquired oxen and donkeys, flocks, manservants, and maidservants.[1]
Why did he announce that he had sojourned with Laban, …

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Home » Concepts, Family Life

Family Purity: The Value of Discipline

Submitted by on November 6, 2005 – 4:09 amNo Comment | 1,425 views

Borders that Define

Man’s physical
needs and desires are not denigrated in the Jewish religion, on the
contrary, they are celebrated and embraced. Judaism seeks to draft the
human aspect of man into the religious experience and thereby uplift
it.




To this end,
Jewish law sets boundaries that define the context of permissible
physical expression. Adhering to these laws requires discipline but the
value of this discipline can be illustrated through the following
example.




Nomadic people
who like to roam freely through the desert during the day are in the
puzzling habit of setting up camp in the evening.




The nomad’s life
is devoted to free roaming without regard for boundaries. The entire
desert is his domain during the day, why does he limit himself to the
tent’s confines during the night?




As humans, we
must each have space to express our individuality. This space must be
private; the public domain doesn’t support individual expression. To
designate a private space we must bar access to the public through the
demarcation of identifiable borders that delineate the boundaries of
our space.




If we’re unable
to define what is not ours, we are unable to define what is. Without
four walls that define the outside of our home, there is no private
space within to call home.




Without a tent
or camp, the nomad quickly realizes that in the entire desert there is
not a single spot he can call his own. He can roam in the public domain
at will but without a tent he doesn’t have a home.

Borders that Uplift

The same holds
true for Torah discipline. If we were permitted to pursue our physical
pleasures with total abandon life wouldn’t provide a structured setting
within which we could find fulfillment.




Without a
defining border that determines the unacceptable, we are unable to
appreciate and enjoy that which is. Life would simply blend into one
long hedonistic spree that would quickly lose its appeal.




The human
condition thrives on periodic stimulation. We delight in treasures
because of their rarity. Common place treasures don’t draw the
attention they deserve. Exotic treasures have great appeal but when
they become ordinary they quickly grow stale.




Torah’s
regimented discipline, infuses meaning into life’s pleasures. By
filling our life with structure, our periodic indulgences become
physically satisfying and spiritually fulfilling.




Through denying
ourselves that which is beyond the sphere of permissible, we define,
and reveal the purpose of, that which is within it. Through permitting
ourselves that which is within this sphere we learn to appreciate and
derive joy from it.

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