Friday, February 09, 2007

Yitro, Inbreeding & Imbalance

כ"א בשבט תשס"ז

Chaim B. writes on parashat Yitro:

Does behavior and attitude function like a recessive gene? Neither my wife not I have red hair, but my daughter does – could she also grow up exhibiting some behavior or attitude we don’t teach at home solely as a result of having some genetic mix from past generations? The Derashos haRan actually does offer such an idea to explain why Avraham insisted that Yitzchak marry a wife from his own family rather than any neighboring tribe who had become monotheistic and who were within his sphere of influence. The Ran says that Avraham’s family possessed “genes” of chessed which outweighed the commitment arrived at intellectually by those who surrounded him.

The genetic and kabbalistic reality is that inbreeding causes spiritual as well as physical imbalance. We see the physical imbalance easily in the transmission of genetic based disease. In the realm of middot, consider dogs - like police dogs or pit bulls or poodles - are bred to augment a specific trait, much like Chaim references breeding to augment the trait of chesed. The consequence of this is that, while the preferred trait may indeed be augmented, other traits are sacrificed to achieve it - understanding for example. The result of overindulged inbreeding is not perfection - it is imbalance, which over the years becomes severe imbalance.

In corroboration - witness the current crisis we see regarding chareidi thuggery. There is a growing set within the chareidi community who are unable to restrain themselves from attempting to pulverize those who don't see Torah their way. Kabbalah calls this character flaw - chesed run amok. In fact, it's the exact same character flaw Ishmael was thought to possess.

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