Rav Eliyahu Lopian on Equilibrium

From “After the Return” – P. 112
by Rabbi Mordechai Becher with Rabbi Moshe Newman

Rav Eliyahu Lopian is quoted as saying ‘Every person looks at himself as though he is on a tightrope; half the world is on the ground to his right and the other half on the ground to his left.” He continues, ‘Why a tightrope? Because there is only room for one.” Rav Lopian was describing a common human condition. People consider anyone ‘more religious” than themselves to be a fanatic, and anyone ‘less religious” tha themselves a heretic. Every individual believes that only he walks the tightrope of normalcy, while everyone else has fallen to one side or the other.

In fact, normalcy cannot easily be defined by objective criteria. What would be considered an inordinately long prayer to one person, for example, would be considered too short to another. An evaluation of an appropriate amount of time a person should devote to prayer depends on his reading ability, how well he understands the prayers, the length of his concentration span, and many other factors. When a person is acquainted with the norms and expectations of his peer group, and knows his own responsibilities and capabilities, he is better able to keep himself in balance.

One comment on “Rav Eliyahu Lopian on Equilibrium

  1. Why don’t you dare to go a bit further and say something more substantial? Why don’t you note that you therefore need to pause before judging another person, who belongs to a different “peer group”, and hence answers to a different “set of norms and expectations of his peer group?” And perhaps recognize, without feeling threatened, that it is at least possible that there are strengths and rewards in that respective “peer group,” and one should not dismiss that person categorically even though he is tempted to focus on those areas that appear relatively defifient, because he would prefer to “prove” that his own peer group and he himself is superior both morally and spiritually?

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