A Healthy Fear

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A Healthy Fear

Karen Berg
November 11, 2013
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This week's Bible portion tells us that Jacob feared Esau, his brother. Those of you who know anything about this Bible story may remember that Jacob was the more positive of the two brothers, while Esau was on the negative side. So the question becomes: Why would Jacob, who we know was a highly elevated soul, have anything on a spiritual level to fear from Esau? Don’t we know that Light prevails over darkness?

According to the kabbalists, this story is actually a code. Esau epitomizes the ego, so Jacob’s fear of his brother was actually a fear of his own ego. Even at his elevated spiritual level, Jacob knew that if he began to believe himself to be the message rather than the messenger, to be the Light rather than a conduit, then he would lose the ultimate battle against the ultimate destructive ego-driven force: the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. For Jacob, it was clear that his only real power was his ability to be a channel for the Light of the Creator.

Each of us should cultivate a similar fear every day. Why? Because this fear can protect us from any illusions we have about ourselves. We always need to be on the lookout for—and vigorously guard against—what our ego wants us to do because that is the only way we are going to grow.