Becoming Good Seeds
Lately, one of the books I've been reading to my son is called, The Bad Seed. This bad seed metamorphosizes in the book to become a "pretty good" seed, but not a "perfect" one.
Rabbi Yaakov Harrari emphasizes that the work of our generation is to uproot our bad seeds from within and change our behavior. Of course, this isn't a quick process, but it's the only way to become an earnest person. Exemplary external service can often cover inner failings.
He says a person should chart out their middos. For instance, one should ask, what don't they do that doesn't bother them and what do they do that does bother them that they want to change. Also, what must they fight to overcome and what comes naturally. This is a starting point for identifying where the work is necessary. On those things that bother you and that require change, great effort must be focused on uprooting those bad seeds and replanting good ones.
In this week's parsha, the Chafetz Chaim famously points out on Rashi who notes that the word garti equals 613, which symbolizes that Yaakov held all the commandments and didn't learn from Lavan's actions. The Chafetz Chaim asks that if Yaakov held the 613 commandments, then the notion that Yaakov didn't learn from Lavan's actions seems superfluous. But it was just the opposite. Yaakov was giving himself mussar in that he didn't learn from Lavan's ways, in that he didn't exercise the 613 mitzvos with the same passion that Lavan engaged in his evil ways.
Anyone today can look at Hamas and see the extremes to which they lower themselves in order to cause destruction. A message to us is to equal their passion for evilness with passion for good.
It's an undebatable reality that the Beis HaMikdash does not stand today because of a failure of inner work. It was destroyed based on a manifestation of sinas chinam which exists within. Mitzvot observance during the second destruction was perfect, but inside there were failings.
Behavior change recreates the person anew, removing any judgments from his new persona. We must all become good seeds, slowly and methodically in order to change our spiritual selves and thus the spiritual balance of the world.