1. The Tension of Two

“In the beginning, One G-d created two”—two basic features, symbolized by heavens and Earth, light and darkness, good and evil. The contrast creates meaning. As one rises, the other falls.  There is ongoing tension between these two universal entities and our job is to reconcile it.   Using the story of creation, we will begin […]

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2. Two Competing Souls

  Throughout our lives the two souls “compete” for control over our consciousness and behavior. There is a constant tug of war. In this sense, the human is at the center of two equally demanding but incompatible impulses with no apparent means of reconciliation. There is, likewise, an inherent tension between body and soul.  But […]

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3. The Inner Opponent

  The animal soul, while chaotic and self-serving by nature, can be tamed and channeled constructively. But it also contains a lower aspect that can be destructive and seeks to keep us from fulfilling our mission. This is “the inner opponent.” Because of this, our two souls are lifelong rivals, fighting for control over our […]

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5. The Neutral Zone

The first step in self-refinement is learning how to identify and classify thoughts, speech, and actions. Dividing all reality into three general categories, we will distinguish between abject “evil”, neutral, and “holy.” Most things in the world are neutral—neither negative nor sacred. An example of this is money, which can be used for charity or […]

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6. Balance

One of the predominant themes within this system of character refinement is balance. Balance here does not mean moderation, but that all faculties of the soul are developed. While inevitably one’s nature will lean toward advancing some areas over others, the aim is to develop all aspects of one’s character in good proportion, and to […]

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1. Uncertainty

She: “Don’t worry, everything will work out.” He:   “How do you know?”   Uncertainty is a part of life. As we move into the unknown, encountering difficult situations, there is an inner call for security, a desire to know that everything will work out, that we will overcome obstacles and succeed. How we deal with […]

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2. Sadness

Truly this should be made known as a cardinal principle, that as with a victory over a physical opponent, such as in the case of two individuals who are wrestling with each other, each striving to throw the other: if one is lazy and sluggish he will easily be defeated and thrown, even though he be […]

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3. Prayer

“I don’t feel anything when I read these words.” “One day I’m inspired, the next day it’s gone.”   Is prayer begging? Is it simply reflective? Do our words make a difference? This chapter will present the Jewish concept of prayer from a new angle. Prayer is not simply a routine request for one’s needs. […]

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4. Interpersonal Relationships

The inner opponent’s greatest weapon is when the individual has a feeling of disconnectedness or separation. During such times, one of the challenges is to overcome selfishness and to fulfill the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the thread that binds people to each other. This emotion can work in a proactive […]

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