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Two Sisters Translated and adapted by Chaya Sara Ben Shachar Most people that I know are not naturally good. That is not to say that I don't know a lot of good, kind people. It's just that after I get to know them, it becomes obvious that they had to work on themselves to become kind. They had to rise above challenges, seek out the good, and only then become the wonderful people that I know. But there are some naturally good people in this world as well. There are righteous men and women out there—Tzaddikim and Tzidkoniyos. These naturally kind people are the pillars of our nation. We look to them for support and advice. The Tzaddik, the naturally good, and the Baal Teshuvah, the person who has to work to be good, make up the Jewish nation. On a microcosmic level each one of us is part Tzaddik and part Baal Teshuvah. The parts of us that require no effort, the giving nature we were blessed with or the ability to always be on time—that's the Tzaddik within us coming out. And when we have to put in that bit of effort, when we have to overcome that urge to answer back or stomp off in a rage, those are the Baal Teshuvah moments. The higher level? The greater type person? While Tzaddik and Baal Teshuvah each have a special role to play, the Baal Teshuvah's efforts offer a definite advantage as anything that requires exertion takes on a deeper meaning. As the Talmud states "The rank of a Baal Teshuvah cannot be reached even by a Tzaddik" (Berachot 34:b). Our forefathers and foremothers laid the groundwork for their children. It is due to them that two opposite type personalities were born. And it is due to them that we have the potential to attain both levels: to bring out our natural talents and to rise above them. "Leah's eyes were tender, but Rachel had beautiful features and a beautiful complexion" (Genesis 29:18). Rachel was beautiful. Both within and without, her whole being was one of magnificence. She was physically attractive, but she was spiritually beautiful as well. She was born righteous, a Tzaddeikes, destined to become Yaakov (Jacob), the Tzaddik's, wife. Leah, on the other-hand, was destined to become Eisav's (Esau's) wife. Only through prayer and its accompanying tears, was her fate altered so that she, too, became Yaakov's wife. Her tender eyes, the result of years of crying, symbolize her exalted status as Baal Teshuvah, as one who rises above her given potential. Two very different sisters. Our matriarchs. From them we draw the energy to let our inner strengths shine through and to work toward the unattainable. From them we learn the beauty of the Tzaddik and the strength of the Baal Teshuvah. Together we form a nation.
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