12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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Grouchy Grizzly 2    

Grouchy Grizzly 2

What a predicament - lightning, thunder, a bombardment of hailstones, a killer gale outside the cave, and Grouchy Grizzly inside the cave!


We continue with our story of Grouchy Grizzly as we explore how anger can destroy the quality of our lives. Still we wait to understand why Grouchy Grizzly was afraid of Isaac and calmly retreated from his presence.
A year later, Isaac and Jerry went hiking again. They spent their first night at the Beaver Creek cabin and continued up the trail the following morning, through the conifer forest to Bear Ridge overlooking Lupine Valley.
At about ten o'clock in the morning, the wind picked up to a near-gale velocity, and foreboding gray clouds darkened the sky. A bolt of lightening struck a massive fir tree not far from them, and split in half as if it were a Popsicle stick.
Old Isaac knew of a cave close by, near the trail's descent from Bear Ridge to Lupine Valley. Within six minutes, he and Jerry stood at the entrance of the cave. Isaac walked inside and Jerry followed.
The blackness of the cave made a moonless night seem like Times Square on New Years Eve. Jerry pulled a flashlight out of his hiking belt, and switched it on.
Are you ready for this - "Grrrrrrrowwwl!" This happened to be Grouchy Grizzly's cave, and he didn't appear to be putting his best hospitable paw forward.
What a predicament - lightning, thunder, a bombardment of hailstones, a killer gale outside the cave, and Grouchy Grizzly inside the cave!
The bear ignored Isaac and growled at Jerry again, but with a little less ferocity than the first time.
Isaac nonchalantly opened his rucksack, and produced a paper bag filled with his famous home-baked oatmeal and honey cookies. He tossed one to the bear, and the bear caught in mid air. He threw a second one on the floor of the cave, in front of the bear. Grouchy Grizzly moved forward and ate that one too. By the eighth cookie, Grouchy Grizzly was eating out of Isaac's hand, a spectacle worthy of top booking at any Ringling Brothers' arena.
Outside, the storm was worsening. Bolts of lightning literally crackled at the entrance of the cave. Calmly, Isaac sat down on the floor of the cave, resting his back on a boulder. The bear sat down beside him, purring like a pussycat while Isaac stroked the fur of his neck.
Isaac was as relaxed with the bear as a person is with a pet poodle, but Jerry preferred to remain standing. An hour later, the storm subsided.
Isaac suggested that before they leave the cave, Jerry should become friendly with Grouchy Grizzly too.
Usually, a host serves the guests, but if you're a guest in the cave of a grizzly, you serve the host. Jerry pulled a can of smoked sardines out of his backpack, which fortunately had an easy-open top. With trembling hands, he ripped the top off, and set the can in front of the grizzly's nose.
Have you ever seen an ecstatic bear? He devoured the contents of the can with one swift lick, rolled his eyes, and continued purring like a kitten. For dessert, the bear ate another cookie out of Isaac's hand.
Jerry had heard about difficult guests at the inn, who couldn't get along with anyone in the world except for Isaac. His amazement trebled at the sight of an anger-prone, vicious grizzly bear - that can't even exist on nonbelligerent terms with his own mate - eating out of Isaac's hands.
* * *
At this point, I'd like to keep the promise that I made earlier, and explain why animals - even predators - are afraid of a God-fearing person.
The scene of Isaac and the grizzly bear makes a similar point as the biblical account of Daniel in the lions' den. People on a high level of spirituality, who are careful about fulfilling the Almighty's commandments, are loved, respected, and feared by all of creation.
"A person with a heart is respected by all of creation." -- Rebbe Nachman of Breslev
The more you cultivate your spiritual growth, the less you have to fear from anything on earth. When God created Adam, the first human, He blessed him (see Bereishit 1:28), saying, "You shall rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and the animals on earth."
The above blessing works, to this very day. Humans, God's prize creation, are instilled with a tiny portion of Godliness, their Divine soul. Humans have higher spiritual capability than the basic life spirit of a fish, bird, or animal.
The Zohar teaches that as long as the Divine soul remains unblemished, it shines, and a Divine aura reflects from that person's eyes and forehead. The birds, fish, and animals - insofar as they rarely violate Divine Will but do exactly as they were created to do - are capable of recognizing the aura of Divine light reflected from a human's eyes and forehead. They think they're seeing a Divine being - like an angel - and therefore pay instant homage.
The contrary holds true as well. Take for example a liar, a thief, a gossip, an adulterer, or an evil-tempered person. Such people lose their Divine auras, because their negative deeds tarnish their souls, thereby suppressing the reflection of Divine light. The human soul is comparable to a candle; bad deeds extinguish the candle, while good deeds enhance its light. When an animal looks at a human devoid of the Divine aura, the animal sees a low-level creature worthy of disdain.
When Cain, the world's first murderer, killed his brother Abel, God punished Cain with exile. Cain was deathly afraid, and said (Bereishit 4:14), "Anyone who finds me will kill me." Cain wasn't referring to other humans, for the only other humans alive at the time were Adam and Chava (Eve) - Cain's parents - from whom he had nothing to fear. Cain was referring to the animals. As a murderer, he had lost his Divine aura, and he was afraid that the animals would kill him. Therefore, God printed a letter of His ineffable Holy Name on Cain's forehead, which would serve as protection from the wild animals (ibid. 4:15).
To be continued . . .
(The Trail to Tranquility is available in the Breslev Store.)   


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