Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gardening and shaping habits

Today is the 29th day of Tebet, 5771

Maimonides (Rambam) writes in Hilkhot De'ot Ch. 1, that we all have different habits and tendencies. In this area, the good path is the middle path. The path which is equidistant from both extremes.

But what happens when we 'naturally' lean toward one of the extremes? How can we get to be in the middle of the road? We know we have to correct it, but can we correct it? And if so, how?

Before we ask haRambam, first ask a gardener.

If you have in you backyard a small tree or a branch leaning to one side, what should you do so it grows straight?

Your gardener will first assess your tree. If your tree has a 20 degrees inclination, and it grows on a 70° angle you have to stake your tree. When you stake your tree do not tie your tree at 90°! When you are coming from 70° and you aim to get to 90° you must stake your tree at 110° angle on the opposite side! With time, the 110° you impose on your tree will balance its 'natural '70° deviation and you will get a tree growing at 90°.

Maimonides explains that a similar process will take place with our character. If we have a natural inclination to one side we need to force ourselves 'acting' for a while on the other equidistant side. In this way, with time we will attain the desired balanced 'golden' way.

How to get straight branches?

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024