Toldot: Are We Hypocrites?

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ARE WE HYPOCRITES? UNDERSTANDING THE DISSONANCE WITHIN US

How disconcerting is it when, everywhere we look, we see this one constant: No single person’s actions (including our own) seem to be able to live up to the belief system we profess. People claim to have high standards – religious people in particular. Many wax eloquent about their divine, indispensable mission in life. Yet when it comes to behavior on a day-to-day level, we all fall short of our ideals.

Does this make us hypocrites? Or schizophrenics?

The dictionary defines hypocrisy, as “feigning to be what one is not.” But, to define “what one is not,” we must first define “what one is.”

This week’s Torah reading, which discusses the dual personalities of the twins, Esau and Jacob, helps us answer a critical question in our lives: Are we hypocrites when our behavior and our beliefs are inconsistent, or, is something else at work here?

The Torah requires us to recognize the two struggling forces within us, and not feel that we are hypocrites in our attempt to access our virtuous soul. Instead of seeing hypocrisy in our inconsistencies, we should be seeing in them our struggle to discover our true selves – a struggle that inevitably creates a dichotomy between what we believe and what we do.

 

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