click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Join 400,000 Aish subscribers
Get Email Updates




Acharei Mot(Leviticus 16-18)

Boundary Power

The existence of the universe is an act of love from the Almighty. It is an expression of His infinite desire to give. Every molecule is a benefit to mankind. Yet at the same time there is a mixture of negativity, boundaries and judgment in life. If God only wants what's best for us, why do we encounter so many difficulties?

Because without the limitations, we would be swallowed up by the "light."

My kids enjoy candy, and they don't enjoy brushing their teeth. Should I shower love upon them by giving them as much candy as they want? Should I allow them never to brush their teeth? Of course not. Children don't understand consequences; that's one of the things learned through maturity. Love without boundaries isn't always good for us.

When Aaron's two sons went into the holiest part of the Temple to make an offering that hadn't been commanded, they were yearning for a higher level of spirituality. They were doing a "holy" act in a holy place, yet they were punished. Was it a punishment or merely a consequence of getting too close to the fire?

If you love the Queen of England and rush out of the crowd to give her a hug, you will get jumped on by guards and wrestled to the ground. An expression of love has to be done in a specific way or it may be detrimental.

Aaron's sons did not ask; they went ahead on their own without seeking guidance, and met a fate they wish they hadn't. In order to love, we need wisdom.

* * *

TOO MUCH LOVE

In Leviticus chapter 18, a list of inappropriate relationships teaches us that in some arenas we can have too much love. Family members are there for familial love, not romantic love. When we want to extend the familial love relationship into a romantic or sexual relationship, we are crossing a forbidden boundary. This is an example of love out of control. It can cause great harm in the universe.

The Torah outlines every single possible relationship that is forbidden. Self-control is the path of holiness. Harnessing love in the proper manner brings an individual to greater revelation.

* * *

PERSONAL ARSENAL

All serious accomplishment takes a combination of our internal resources, not just one talent or trait. It's not easy to boil things down to one attitude or character trait for any pursuit.

Yet the Talmud says that the approach to all 613 commandments can be boiled down one thing: simple trust in God. But that's very difficult to try to work on.

[Unrelatedly, Forbes magazine noticed that all successful business people have one trait in common: Persistence.]

In regards to the theme of this article, we all have natural tendencies, good and bad. The way to harness them all is through boundaries. That's the one-stop shop for self-growth. If we are able to control our traits, then we can access them at will. If we can't, then we are subject to life's influences and our natural reactions to those influences.

Most people who are lacking accomplishment tend to blame outside circumstances for their situation. Yet you can almost always find someone with your same limitations that accomplished what you want to.

Ray Charles didn't do much for blind people. He did, however, go out of his way to help the deaf. When asked for an explanation he said, "I'm blind. It didn't hold me back from being successful. Deaf, now that's a handicap."

Imposing boundaries puts the incredible arsenal of personal abilities in the palm of your hand. Grab a hold of that power.

* * *

Spiritual Exercise:

Look over your week and see if there is any area of life in which you are seeking a higher level of pleasure or accomplishment. Think about what "boundaries" you might impose on yourself in order to put your internal power more under your control.

Published: April 25, 2009

Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Bernie Siegel, April 11, 2011 6:09 PM

our creator loves us

water defies the laws of physics when it is frozen and becomes less dense so ice floats and preserves life on our planet. our wounds heal without instructions and our genes can change to preserve life also. a perfect world would not be creation so we are given the chance to be co-creators through our choices and actions. we are here to live and learn. life is about beginnings and commencements just as a graduation is and the torah is our intruction book.

(2) Anonymous, May 2, 2009 1:11 PM

I'm not sure what you are suggesting that we do. Can you give some examples? Todah for the great article.

(1) Eileen L, April 29, 2009 10:47 PM

Enjoyed reading this.....thanks for writing it.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!