|There is a concept called *tipat Esav v'Yishmael*, the drop [of semen] that
[produced] Esav and Yishmael. A drop of semen, as is well known, can be
productive, counter-productive or destructive. Not as well known, is the
fact that semen is a product of the mind (Likutey Moharan I, 7:3).
The drop of semen that produced Yishmael came from our patriarch Avraham. The one that produced Esav came from Yitzchak Avinu. A minute flaw in Avraham Avinu's theories of *chessed* (kindness) and a minute flaw in Yitzchak Avinu's theories of *gevurah* (strength) brought into being agents of destruction.
We possess neither the gifts nor the historically significant roles that our Patriarchs did, so the flaws in our thinking, though they may be many and huge, do not impact as deeply or as widely. Still, we are sentient beings, at least by the standards of this day and age, and our thoughts and way of thinking are important because they will sooner or later determine how we act. So we have to try to keep them kosher.
What can we do though, if "Greeks" have breached the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) of our minds, planting there a pantheon, the gods of: Democracy, the Labor Party, Hollywood, the NBA, Wall Street, My Inner Child, etc., etc., ad nauseam? It's one thing to have a way of thinking that is flawed, but to have only flaws is not a way of thinking!
When our ancestors drove out the Greeks and re-took control of the Beit Hamikdash, they did not know if they would find anything that was undefiled. Yet, despite the indications that they would not, they undertook the search. All they found was one jar of pure olive oil with which to light the Menorah. The jar had the seal of the Kohein Gadol (high priest), indicating that it was undefiled. Yet it contained very little oil, only enough for one day's lighting. Miraculously, though, they were able to use that oil to light the Menorah for eight days, when freshly-pressed, sanctified oil became available.
Our mind has been breached, in so many ways and for such a long time, it might almost be said that it is no longer ours. Yet, if we undertake the search, if we want to find something that's genuinely Jewish, we will find some "oil to light the Menorah," some point of our thinking, which has the seal of the "Kohein Gadol," the true tzaddikim.
You're discouraged already. It's such a little bit of "oil." It won't cast much light. It won't last long. As for the former, we always need to remember: *midah tovah merubah* (Sotah 11a) - whatever evil can accomplish, good can accomplish hundreds of times over. If bad thoughts that once occupied our minds drove us to do naughty things, certainly our good thoughts will lead us to doing good. As for the latter worry, we can rely on the merit of the tzaddikim, that the little bit of "oil" will be enough to light our "Menorah" until we are able to receive a fresh supply of more genuine Jewish thinking.
a likhteger Chanukah!
A "light/enlightening"* Chanukah!
Copyright © 2001, Breslov Research Institute