Picture of the author
Picture of the author
War bannerWar banner

Are You a Bull, a Sheep, a Donkey, or a Garment?

Many people get lost in life -- in aggression, passivity, or treachery. But some can’t figure out where they are lost

1 hr 1 min

Class Summary:

"You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep go astray and ignore them; return them to your brother... So shall you do with his ass, so shall you do with his garment, and so shall you do with every lost thing of your brother... -- Deuteronomy 22:1-3 " "Obviously, the duty to return a lost object to its owner is not limited to oxen, sheep, asses and garments, but applies—as the verse concludes—to “every lost thing of your brother.” The Talmud explains that the Torah cites these examples because each of them teaches us another of the laws regarding lost objects. However, while it deciphers the laws to be derived from “ox,” “ass” and “garment,” it does not succeed to do so in the case of the “sheep.” “The lost sheep is a difficulty,” it concludes the Talmud, meaning that the legal significance of the word “sheep” in the verse proved difficult for the sages. " "Accordingly, the mitzvah of returning a lost object applies not only to the physical property of one’s fellow but to his spiritual possessions as well. If you encounter a life gone astray—a confused mind, a dysfunctional heart, a soul that has lost its moral compass or spiritual sensitivity—restore it to its owner. You may not remain indifferent to the spiritual plight of a brother any more than you may ignore his wayward ox. " "The Zohar tells us that the Torah has both a body and a soul. The “body” of the Torah is its “physical” part—the historical events it recounts and the laws it legislates. But implicit in this body is a “soul,” a mystic dimension in which every story has its sublime analogy and every legal nuance its spiritual counterpart." "Specifically, the four examples of “lost objects” enumerated by Torah correspond to four prototypical maladies of the human soul. Join us on a fascinating journey into the psychology of aggression, passivity, treachery and meekness. "

Please leave your comment below!

  • P

    profound -10 years ago

    return
    one of the most profound messages that youor anyone else has ever delivered. How appropriate and helpful a guide for the New Year. You have allowed me to identify all four challenges in myself and have given me an opening to see tyhem objectively and hopefully work on them. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    Sarah -11 years ago

    Beautiful
    Thank you, I'm so excited I found this. These shiurim are out of this world. Much strength and brachos to you.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • GA

    gideon azari -11 years ago

    Are You a Bull, a Sheep,
    Hi some time one person can be all: Bull,donkey,sheep,and A garment all this crrekters ar imbued in uman,but they arnot strong as a whole only in differant level in each person.Regarding to the sheep if we can add that the shep reperesent teheia tmim am Hasham when you take this postion you will be neve lost,But if you decided not to go that you will be like a lost sheep.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • AYK

    Avraham Y. Kahana -12 years ago

    Rambam's point in considering it as a good thing/blessing
    How can it be that Rambam did think that eventually eating from the tree of knowledge constituted a good thing/a blessing when, after that event we have to add to our difficulties finding out what is true and what is not, when before chet etz hadaat we did not have that problem? The benefit he argues we gained may be theoretical, but concretely we are now im more troubles than before!!!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • A

      Anonymous -11 years ago

      Re: Rambam's point in considering it as a good thing/blessing
      That is his question: The Torah seems to be saying that through this act Daas of Tov and Ra was given to Adam and Eve. That would seem like a grand blessing!



      Indeed his answer is like you say that it brought only confusion and degradation.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Michale -12 years ago

    How important are ethics in today's society?
    I took a title for my question from the painting for this article. Yes, how are ethics important today? How more require following ethics leaders, Rabbis or people? I think, everyone has right answer, correct one, and not "comfortable" one. That is: of course, a leader, a rabbi has to show example in any aspect of live.



    I has discovered some Web site with video where at the Hasidic meeting of 11 Shevat (01/16/2011) Rabbi Dror Yisrael Cohen, from the settlement Avivim, read a halachic ruling (Psak Dean) that the Rebbe is undoubtedly the Moshiach ("Moshiach vada") http://www.moshiach.ru/mosh... />


    In the "Laws about Kings, their wars and King Moshiach" (11:4) RAMBAM wrote: "But if King comes as descendant of King David, who had devoted himself, like David, his ancestor, to comprehension of Torah and commandments according to the written and oral Torah, and make all of Israel to follow it and become stronger in the pursuit of it, and will conduct God’s war, then he is presumably Moshiax ("behezkat Moshiach"). And if he succeeded in this, and won all the people, and built the Temple in its place, and gathered the people of Israel from exile, this man is certainly Moshiach ("Moshiach Vada ')."



    We did not see yet that it happens. I wish to get a comment / answer for this question.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • M

      Michale -12 years ago

      Re: How important are ethics in today's society?
      I have received the following response from Rabbi Menachem Posner, Chabad.org to my question about this ridiculer activity:

      ----------------------------------------------------------------

      B"H



      Dear ...

      As I am not familiar with the administrators of http://moshiach.ru/" target="_blank or Rabbi Dror Yisrael Cohen. However, neither of them represent the belief of mainstream Chabad and certainly not the Chabad leadership. Concerning these activities, we at Chabad.org and the mainstream adherents of Chabad follow the directive of the Central Committee of Chabad Rabbis in the US and Canada that what those people profess is "clearly against the Rebbe's wishes."



      Please let me know if this helps.



      Yours truly,



      Rabbi Menachem Posner

      ----------------------------------------------------------------

      Dear TheYeshivaNet,



      Through your Web site I would like to ask the highest representatives of Chabad to make clear that site http://moshiach.ru/" target="_blank will be closed or exposed as "Fabricator" because their representatives gave several "speeches" in media/press, they also have big auditorium of people, mainly Russian in Israel and in Russia. I don't know how but some US Jews have similar thoughts. I tried to explain all people I met different view, but I don't have access to media. This will be great cause for the Rebbe and his followers to clear his name. Also, please, publish some article through your Web site. These people are making big damage for Chabad, they must to be stop.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Michale -12 years ago

    Open discussion
    Thank you, Rabbi. I like your classes and articles. But very often we did not get any feedback from you to our questions. I would like to describe some facts and openly ask in what categories they felt: right, wrong, comfortable. The first fact: I posted here some notes that were never published. They were not abusive, someone was disagreed with my note and decided to not publish it. Is it comfortable path? The second fact: Occupy Judaism NYC, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Kolot Chayeinu and CBST erected a sukkah in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. http://www.virtualjerusalem...">http://www.virtualjerusalem... The sukkah was donated apolitically by PopUpSukkah, a Chabad organization. Is it wrong for Jews to participate in Anti-government rally any type? Is it comfortable path for the Chabad organization to donate the sukkah to this event?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    Shifra -14 years ago

    metamorphosing fruit
    it seems to me that the fruit itself was not metamorphosing, rather it was the act of eating the fruit, against the will of Hashem. in essence, separating from Hashem, of the manifestation of ego, of the self as being separate from Hashem.

    i may be going out on a limb here, but it seems to me that if you really get to the source, pretty much all problems in this world, all controversy, stems from the ego.

    when we do as Hashem commands, we let go of our egos.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • A

    avraham -14 years ago

    question
    Hello Rabbi Yossef Y. Jacobson, I would like to say first that the article Aesthetics Vs. Ethics is probably amongst the best I have ever read in this website - something I have been doing for the past 3 years or so.

    It touches one of the biggest difficulties for me - if not the greatest of all - when understanding Judaism and God's plans/deeds: the eating from the tree by Eve and subsequently by Adam.

    But the reason I am writing to you has nothing to do with the text that elaborates on the theme, rather, in the usual allegories that come as introductions in algemeiner's text (which I find very useful and helpful).
    This one, however, I sense I didn't grasp it at all. What's behind it ?

    Many thanks in advance,
    Avraham Yehoshua Kahana
    Israel

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • IC

    irina ceraso -14 years ago

    today essay
    Thank you.How and where can I study these topic

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    SHELLIE -14 years ago

    TODAYS ESSAY
    VERY BEAUTIFUL AND TRUE, OUR EGO, PRIDE BECOME PART OF US. NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO WALK OVER US, AND EVEN IF THEY ACT WRONG TO US, HOW WE PERSIEVE OURSELVES IS REALLY WHAT MATTERS. OUR SELF ESTEEM IS HOW WE PERSIEVE OURSELVES. LET US DO THE BEST WE CAN, INSPITE OF OURSELVES WITH THE HELP OF HASHEM. LIFE IS GOOD, BUT NOT EASY. THIS IS THE WORLD TO WORK ON OURSELVES. WHEN WE GET TO THE NEXT WORLD, OUR QUESTIONS DOWN HERE WILL BE UNDERSTOOD. IN THIS COMPLEX WORLD WHEN THINGS SEE UNCOMPREHENSIBLE CLOUDY ALL WILL MAKE SENSE. HANG IN THERE IS THE MESSAGE.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • A

    alex -14 years ago

    good/bad vs right/wrong
    The Torah in the story of the eating of the fruit from the tree of "Knowledge of Good and Evil" is warning us as to what the human mind can do when given the chance to evaluate on the basis of good vs bad.

    The word good had already been introduced by God declaring on each day of creation "that it is good."
    Thus, we are taught that we can perceive something and deem it to be qualitatively pleasant and acceptable, perhaps even creating a context or predisposition of
    satisfaction.

    The warning here is that the perversity of the human mind
    is such that it isn't suffi- cient for it to declare
    that something is good without
    also having to declare its alternative to be "bad".

    What humankind tapped into, when eating the fruit, was not discernment but, a killer side effect, judgmentality.

    An aspect of the mind, when it comes to making a decision, is that it has to
    somehow dis the unchosen. Its not enough for "A" to be good, but "B" has to be deemed bad.

    This unleashed aspect of untrammeled judgment, without the boundaries of a code of conduct, inevitably leads to bestial behavior on the part of Man, that only the Flood can wash clean.

    Interestingly, later in the biblical narrative a similar lesson is taught with the meraglim. Moses instructs the spies to evaluate whether the land is good. Big mistake. This type of question gives implicit license to the mind to criticize. (How was the restaurant? Well, the food was good, but the service was not so good.)

    It takes discipline and development to allow something to be OK without
    alternating it with some
    balancing negative. The Torah's invitation is to have us train our minds to be in
    the moment, with the experience at hand, without diluting it by contrasting it
    with an extraneous alternative.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • V

    Vigs. -14 years ago

    What would be?
    The notion that man can differentiate between good and evil can be appropriated to the idea that man was created in g-ds image. Yet at the same time he has his temptations, urges, and desries making him animal-like. In this dichotomy lies man's mission. He was given a g-d like understanding to help him overcome the challenges and adversaries of life. The 'sin' of eating from the tree brought about this knowledge, so the question is what would have happened to our world if they did not eat?, for the destiny of this world is for man through his g-d given intellect to transfrom his animalistic tendencies.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • CH

    Choni Hershel -14 years ago

    attched parsha commentary
    A really awesome commentary. Just perfect as an email. And it's also great because it's appropriate for such a broad array of Jews at different levels of observance. I only (get to) read just a small percent of the Torah on the web. Thank you for this email message.
    Yasher koach!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • A

    Aviel -14 years ago

    Truth
    This was a truly honest essay! Complex yet simple enough for us to spread it.May Hashem bless us with truth between each other so we can bring truth.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Mordechai -14 years ago

    Not very proud of being a Bull here but i believe in time i can reorient that attitude to channel positve energy.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    mordi -14 years ago

    poison
    What was the message about the poisonous wife ? Take the poison ? Kill yourself ? In so far as the " First Sin " explains the duality ( good/ bad or comfort discomfort ) of Man, I want to know why the Rabbi in the story decided the man should take the poison. In a three hour discussion, there had to be some real issues with the wife. If I were the distraught man I would have suggested that the Rabbi take the poison. Just as there are serious issues of abusive husbands, there are a ton of stories of wives that are mentally/emotionally abusive or materialistically extravagant/flaunting in a very cruel way. Such poison does not end with the husband, there are no end of stories of mothers 'poisoning' their children. You began with an important issue that deserves a practical answer based on today's society. If the article merely presented the distraught man as a segue into Adam and Eve and the Fall, I will consider that my response is out of luck on getting a direct answer. All the best.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • YM

    yitzchok Michael -14 years ago

    Today's Essay
    BS"D

    It seems to me, also, that the Rambam indicated in his chapter in Moreh Nevuchim pertaining to the sin of Eve (and Adam) that the greatest consequence was actually a loss of intellect, rather than a gain as his challenger thought. Before the Chet of the Aitz haDaas, Mankind was concerned about what is true and false, as you have shown. Subsequent to the Chet of the Aitz haDaas, Man was concerned with lesser things--what is fine or bad. (It's bad, for example, to go around in public nude, whereas in Gan Eden it didn't essentially matter. Because our intellect was superior, the body was just the body--so what! Now, with a deceased intellect, we have a different way of thinking about such issues.

    All the best, Rabbi.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • M

      Michale -12 years ago

      Re: Today's Essay
      Adam and Chava did not see themselves naked because they had Light garments: their souls were so pure that illuminate light through skin and bodies were invisible.  After sin the holiest soul moved out, and what left from holy soul was covered by Sitra Achra. So “light cover” disappeared, and they saw their bodies.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • JD

    John Dunne -14 years ago

    Questions
    You write:

    "The partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge transformed the vocabulary of the human race. Prior to the sin of the tree, the prism used by man to classify cravings, events and ideas was whether they were false or true. If they were true he embraced them; if they were false, he rejected them.

    "In the aftermath of the sin, a paradigm shift occurred in the psyche of man: Now the primary barometer of the significance of things became dependent upon them being bad or good, not true or false."

    I don't know from where you get that "prior to the sin of the tree, the prism used by man to classify cravings, events and ideas was whether they were false or true." But I'll accept that your statement is true.

    You then say that "now the primary barometer of the significance of things became dependent upon them being bad or good, not true or false." That does sort of follow from their having eaten fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and bad." So, I'll go along with that too.

    How did you slip into whether something "feels good, even though it may be wrong and false"? The "good" in "feels good" is a different meaning of the word "good."

    You write: If Adam had not eaten the metamorphosing fruit, the primary question in life would have been, "Am I doing the right thing?" Now, in the post-consumption era, the defining question has become, "Am I doing the comfortable thing?"

    "Am I doing the right thing?" is asking whether it is good -- not whether it is true.

    Eating fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and bad" does not lead to asking "Am I doing the comfortable thing?" Asking whether something is true or false is at least as likely to lead to that question. One would ask whether it is true that such and such will make me feel comfortable. After eating fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and bad," one might ask I know that this makes me feel comfortable -- but is it good or bad, should I avoid something that makes me feel comfortable because it is bad? Should I do something which is good -- even though it makes me feel uncomfortable?

    Whether something is "the right thing to do" is equivalent to whether it is "good" -- not whether it is true.

    You didn't provide any footnotes for your slovenly-reasoned, slippery stuff about "feels good," "right thing," "comfortable," etc.

    ... and how did Aesthetics get into all of this?

    Do you have any sources?

    Can you tighten up your reasoning?

    Can you be a bit more pursuasive?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • M

      Michale -12 years ago

      Re: Questions
      I agree with John. It is not clear different between "true" and "good", "false" and "bad" in this article. I usually translate Hebrew word טוב    as "good". Here are all variants translations of this word from Google: 1/ noun: good, goodness, wealth, property, 2/ adjective: good, well, kind, fair. No translation as "true". Usually as I know, true has been used to indicate if something exists or not exists. For example, I can ask: is this event good for me? An answer can be true or false. From other hand, the same question can be asked as: is this event bad for me? For the same event the answer will be opposite. True or false characterize something similar as Yes / No pair. When חווה Chava / Hava and Adam ate from prohibited Tree of Knowledge, they did not been separated from Creation, they got http://www.chabad.org/multi...">"Kelipah" / "Sitra Achra”. And it came to their body as garment of soul. In the same time all creatures got Sitra Achra too. Our task in this World clean up the Low World from Sitra Achra. I would like to give some examples from Tanya to see how over there “true” and “evil” (bad) / ”good” had been used. http://www.chabad.org/daily...">http://www.chabad.org/daily... Iggeret HaKodesh, end of Epistle 22: כי יציבא מלתא ותקין פתגמא, שכל אחד מתוקן מחבירו - For it is a true statement and a correct proverb that every man becomes better through his fellow. ואיש את רעת רעהו אל תחשבו בלבבכם, כתיב - and, in the words of Scripture, “let none of you consider in your heart what is evil for his fellow.” (Can we replace here “evil” with “false”?) כי גדולה לשון הרע כנגד עבודה זרה וגילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים - For to speak evil [of another] is as grave as idolatry and incest and bloodshed. (Can we replace here “evil” with “false”? Yes, but meaning is different – speak “false” about person it is not the same as speak badly about person.) וכבר נודע לכל חכם לב יתרון הכשר המחשבה על הדבור הן לטוב והן למוטב - for all the wise of heart are aware of the greater impact [on the soul] of thought over speech, whether for the good or for the better.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • CG

    Chaya Gross -14 years ago

    Synthesis vs. Dichotomy
    BH
    Is it not possible that the real tragedy of disobeying
    G-d's command was creating a world that suddenly lost its wholeness? Before eating from the tree of good and evil Adam and Eve were simply a part of creation not separate from it, but rather an integral part, but after the apple they noticed they were naked. Ego emerged and they were no longer part in the same way. They developed an "I". It is the ego that creates the dichotomy,the separateness, the good and bad, which are relative terms in "relation to". If there is no I, then things just are. Everything is good, some revealed and some not revealed yet, but all good. To the "I", the judge, value of good and bad emerge. When the "I" becomes whole, and the ego is nullified we can once again move towards wholeness and back towards the garden of Eden...may it be soon in our days. Amen.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • ML

    Meira Lerman -14 years ago

    My Answers
    4. Questions and exercises:
    1. Are you an aggressive person?
    This chapter of Torah is talking about an ox or a bull as a prototype of aggressive person, whereas heifer is different type of personality and presented in some others chapters.
    Does your aggression damage other people?
    Not sure if they welcome a heifer at rodeo fights…
    2. Are you cold and passive?
    I am too fond of the game called life for that.
    How does it damage people around you?
    Some of them just cannot stand a person who disturbs their quagmire and constantly wakes them up.
    3. Are you double-faced?
    Not only double but triple or, may be even, “multicolored hypocrite”( What do you want from almost ready to go American licensed nurse, Russian original, who has children and wild mix of Yiddish and Sephardic blood?)
    Are you a frenemy to anybody in the world?
    Here is what I learned from this new word:
    Adam and Eve didn’t know that they were naked before they took a taste of fruit from the tree of knowledge. Their nakedness was neutral sign of their innocence: neither good nor evil. It started trouble them only because they used a wrong source - serpent, in wrong time and in a wrong place. If they had patience to wait for G-d’s presentation of this fruit their psycho had been much safe. How do I know? It’s a fact that Hebrew words for friend and enemy sound similar and from the Torah perspective finally, in New Era our enemies will become our friends. Comes New Webster dictionary and sophisticatedly introduces its negative concept through the word frenemy: doomed, cynical and without any references to the Source!
    4. Are you spineless?
    With an awful back pain I sometimes wish I were spineless.
    Meek, docile and easily submissive to where you are being pulled?
    Yeah, easily submissive to pulling, waiting for the pain to subside.
    How does it effect your daily life?
    It brings instant tranquility with the sign on the background: “DREAM, LOVELY DREAM!
    5. What is the cause of any of the above qualities in your life?
    It might be either congenital or acquired
    Ultimately it roots in the image of G-d according which we all had been created. See explanations below.
    What can you do practically to change any of them?
    Should I?
    6. How can you reorient you any of the above qualities into a positive and productive force?
    If those qualities are clinical, sorry it’s beyond scope of my practice, otherwise we can try the safest waywith shifting our bad attitude for a good one.
    1. Aggression is the quality that, being curbed, makes a man so irresistible for a woman. Much better than edentate humans.
    2. If a person feels cold and passive he might experience wisdom of King Solomon: “Futility of futilities”.
    3. What’s wrong with the sheep? “On spiritual level a sheep does not have its spiritual identity”. Oh well, it’s our national trait that help us survive through whole history. Vladimir Nabokov invented a nice word for such kind personality: NETKA ... Furthermore, if we were created according to G-d’s image and G-d doesn’t have any image, then Darwin should resign: we all came from a sheep not from any kind of ape.
    7. In conclusion, why does the Torah specify “bull,” “donkey,” “garment” and “sheep” in the laws of returning an object?
    Because four of them are correlated to four major spiritual flaws in each of us and as such should be restored to proper service for Almighty.
    Please specify.
    Once again? I cannot repeat it as beautiful as Rabbi Yosef Jacobson. Just take time to watch this video.


    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • E

    Elki -14 years ago

    thought
    Mazal Tov to David & Eda Schottenstein. May you go me'chayil el chayil and live many happy and healthy years together.

    The shiurim are timeless, but the graphics and technology is getting increasingly sophisticated.
    I got a kick out of the bull ring in Spain.
    While I was watching the shiur, the part of the beged not necessarily proving the pnimius of the person, a though hit me. I wonder if we can make any connection to the fact that Adam HaRishon and Chava were unclad until the sin and they themselves were embarrassed and looked to cover themselves up.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • M

      Moriah -10 years ago

      Re: thought
      What a great point. But wasn't it G-d Himself that made clothes for them?

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

      • A

        Anonymous -10 years ago

        Re: thought
        That was at a later stage. Right after the sin the Torah says that Adam and Eve dressed themselves.

        Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • A

    Admin -14 years ago

    to Leonard Singer
    Try closing computer, and restarting and then press play. From our side, it seems to be working perfectly.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • LS

    leonard singer -14 years ago

    connectivity
    tried to watch on wireless at a hotel; had 54 excellent connection but it runs only a few seconds at and time, stops, and then starts again - like the old "buffering" problem.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • N

    Neshama -14 years ago

    Oy, the little Shepseleh
    Another vintage rendition. Thank you. Terrific.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • A

    Admin -14 years ago

    To Malkah
    Refresh the page and press play. It should work, unless there is a problem with your internet browser.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Malka -14 years ago

    live class?
    this is the 2nd week in a row that I can't "get into" the lecture, all I get is a half-shaded picture of the front page picture. Ouch! I miss my shiur!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    miriam -14 years ago

    thanks
    Thanks for the lectures you have been sending world over via email. They are "gevaltic"! Keep up the great work!! With much appreciation, Miriam Yerushalmi

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • E

    Ephrayim -14 years ago

    Me
    I'm a donkey, myself.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author