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December 12, 1986 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-12

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Changes Of Heart:
Spiritual Transplants


Special to The Jewish News


ecent advances in
medical technology
have made possible
the transplantation of a
human heart from a deceased
person into another indi-
vidual stricken with severe,
advanced heart disease. Such
procedures raise a host of
complex moral and religious
issues which are currently
being analyzed and debated.
Although ours is the first
generation to be the be-
neficiaries of cardiac trans-
plantation, our prophets of
yesteryear often spoke of a
spiritual heart transplant.
Thus the prophet Ezekiel, in
the name of God says: "And a
new heart will I give you and
a new spirit I will put within
you, and I will take away the
stone heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you a heart of
flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).
Indeed, man, being what he
is, is constantly experiencing
a change of heart in the
spiritual sense of the term.
We are constantly changing
our attitudes, our values, our
perspectives on life. And so
when the prophet speaks of a
levchadash, a new heart, he
urges man to change his
Jacob's journey and his
20-year stay in Laban's house
gives us a microcosmic por-
trayal of a man whose life
was marked by a continuous
change of heart, by a con-
tinuous reevaluation of
In the beginning of this
week's sidrah we meet Jacob
on his first night away from
home as he travels toward
the land of his Uncle Laban.
He is alone in the wilderness
surrounded by all kinds of
dangers. He lays down to rest
and has a magnificent dream.
Through his dream, he ac-
quired a lev chadash, a new
heart, for he experiences the
most profound change in his
young life. He dreams of a
ladder spanning heaven and
earth with angels ascending
and descending upon it, and
he hears the voice of God
summoning him to divine
service. While Jacob is over-
whelmed by this sublime
mood, when his heart is over-
flowing with emotion, he
makes a vow, a spiritual
His words are those of a
man who has had a spiritual
heart transplant: "If God will
be with me and keep me on
this way that I go and will
give me bread to eat and
clothes to put on and I come
back to my father's house in
peace ... then the Lord shall
be my God ... and of all that
You shall give me, I shall

Morton F. Yolkut is rabbi at
Cong. B'nai David.

56 Friday, December 12, 1986 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

surely give a tenth to You"
(Genesis 28:20-22).

Here was a man who had
recently deceived his father
in order to receive his bless-
ing, and had to flee to escape
the wrath of his jealous
brother Esau. He is alone and
depressed. Suddenly he has a
spiritual awakening and
finds God. He asks nothing of
God but the necessities of
life, food and clothes, and he
is willing to devote his future
energies and resources to His
Then 20 years pass, 20
years of dealing with the
likes of the cunning and
ruthless Laban. By the end of
those 20 years Jacob has be-
come a different man. He has
now acquired a lev chadash,

Shabbat Vayetze:

only this time he is no longer
concerned with the neces-
sities of life. His values have
changed and he now dreams
of speckled and striped calves
— of material success and
At this point, Jacob has a
sudden change of heart when
he is confronted in yet a third
dream by an angel who says:
"I am the God of Beit-El
where you annointed a pillar
and made a vow unto me."
Don't you remember Jacob?
All that you asked for at that
time was the necessities of
life for bread to eat and
clothes to wear. And now you
dream of riches and bigger
flocks. "Now arise, and get-
out of this land and return to
the land of your birth." Jacob
you have become spoiled here
under the influence of Laban.
You need a change of heart!
This final dream marked a
major turning point in
Jacob's life. It pointed the
way to a new value system
for him, one that led to
spiritual maturity, one that
would rearrange his priorities
from the material to the
spiritual. Jacob went on to
become the revered father of
our people and left a spiritual
legacy that survives to this
Every person in the course
of a lifetime experiences simi-
lar change of heart. One can
never tell how a person will
develop, what untapped
potentialities — both for good
and for evil — lie dormant
within his heart. Let us pray
that when we do acquire a
new heart that it will beat
with compassion for our fel-
lowman, love for God and a
yearning for all that is good
and decent in life.

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