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Two animated stick men trying to maintain balance on a seesaw-like floor. Can you relate to this scene?

Equilibrium

Equilibrium

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Equilibrium

Two animated stick men trying to maintain balance on a seesaw-like floor. Can you relate to this scene?

So, this is the longest stick figure vignette so far, and I would imagine that after 2 minutes of trying to follow this guy getting tossed around by the two creepy guys, that one might expect more of a pay off than a fairly up-front quote acknowledging the struggle between good and evil. I mean, we all know the struggle exists, why did we have to watch this dude sliding around for 2 minutes to get that?

This question mirrors another question I had while I was researching this one. The Torah tells us that when Rebecca was pregnant with Jacob and Esau, “The children struggled within her.” This was so upsetting to Rebecca that she pleaded with G‑d, “Why am I like this?” What didn’t make sense to me was the answer: “There are two nations in your womb and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger.” How did this resolve anything for Rebecca? What questions did it answer, and how did it make what was happening to her any easier? Isn’t that kind of even more upsetting? It’s bad enough that her twins are fighting inside of her, and now she finds out that it’s actually an eternal conflict between two descendant-nations? If you ask me, that’s even more of a bummer.

Then I found an interpretation that stood out for me. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev explains that Rebecca was only aware of one child. She knew she was destined to be the mother of a tzaddik (righteous individual) who would be one of our forefathers. And when she felt the struggle inside of her, she thought that she was somehow incompatible with the righteous soul growing within her, that there was something wrong with her. G‑d’s answer to her was that the struggle was not one force against her, but rather, two forces within her.

Now, I’ve only been a parent for a couple years, but I can’t imagine it would be reassuring to find out that it’s not me my kids hate, it’s each other. So how does it make things any better? I think it’s easy to see things as all or nothing. When we continue to do things we know are not ideal, we tell ourselves, “I guess that’s just who I am.” Or, the other way around (this is my personal favorite) – we justify our behavior by saying, “Hey, I’m a good guy, if this is what a good guy does, it must not be so bad.” Either way, we’re boxing ourselves in and not allowing ourselves to appreciate the complexity of the struggle. It’s never just a done deal, there’s always a balance and a delicate dynamic, and it’s our responsibility to be aware of that dynamic so that we can shift our lives in positive directions. So while I imagine it couldn’t have been easy for Rebecca to learn that her twins were polar opposites fighting with one another, I think an eternal “struggle” is more promising and reassuring than a simple “incompatibility.” It means there is a relationship and a process—one that will prove long and difficult, but hey, I guess that’s what life is all about. So that’s why the guy was getting tossed around for 2 minutes. It was my way of expressing that ongoing relationship between the forces within ourselves that keep us going in different directions, and ultimately, our ability to control that process. As for the ending—I could toss out some symbolism I thought of if you want to hear it, but honestly, it was just the coolest ending I could come up with.

Oh, and a special thank you to my brother for figuring this one out with me.

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Anonymous March 3, 2014

Genius. Reply

sarah W Bld, MI/USA February 22, 2011

I remember learning that while Rivkah thought she had only one child, she was petrified that the child was spiritually insane. He would go for Torah, and for idolitry. She figured a rasha must be dealt with,and a tzadik as a child would present challenges as well, but those she could handle. But one who was so crazed as to go for both.....that would be too much. Reply

Mike Brooklyn, by January 19, 2011

passivity The message to me was - Don't just sit on your rear, get up and do something! Reply

Leah Monroe, WA July 2, 2010

Balance I kept thinking of the importance of keeping a balance in life. Reply

Y. M. Goldstein Kfar Chabad, Israel November 16, 2009

One mitzvah can tip the scale and bring Moshiach Quite a profound and simple video, but I kept thinking that one small step, one mitzvah can tip the scale. The Rebbe encouraged us in this way. Reply

factoryrat Melbourne , Australia October 29, 2009

Equilibrium opinion A versus opinion B
creates opinion AB.
if one doesn't respect the other then neither can exist Reply

Lesli Manto Madison, VA October 20, 2009

Smiling How can you be so brilliant with stick figures?
Because you are thinking Torah.
Awesome. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY February 4, 2009

Now what? The two remaining guys tapdance it out until one more disappears into the abyss? I’m still dreaming of the day with coolest ending of all… Jew guy anchors himself in the middle unaffected by the others, then the entire populace settles in around him. They can rock back and forth in sync and somehow keep the balance. Reply

Anonymous January 12, 2009

A Relationship and A Process I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, the vignette or the essay-ette. What a rich and beautiful resolution -- one that transforms the stifling struggle of life into it's celebration! Very well explained. And being a visual learner, the vignette for me was a total intellectual dessert.

Thank you, and please keep 'em coming! Reply

Andrea Teh Harmsel Jerusalem, Israel December 11, 2008

Being "all things" to "all men". could you do a clip of the disasterious results of trying to serve man rather than God. Reply

mo December 7, 2008

great Definitely the most complex and interesting one yet. Please keep it up, I really gain from them. Reply

Lazer Nanes November 28, 2008

RE: mo Thanks for spelling it out for the slow ones among us. Reply

Yossi K London, UK November 28, 2008

Length I've been loving these clips since they began. They're great! Please keep 'em short, though. Reply

D. Taub winnetka November 26, 2008

makes sense it is understood by those who understand. think about it... Reply

mo November 26, 2008

to lazer nanes my take on this is that is explaining the relationship of good and evil and how there must be in a balance, and that we ultimately are in control through our actions/choices. you see when the tie-guy starts moving around, the "ground" shifts, and together with the force of good the evil is pushed off. Reply

Anonymous NY, NY November 26, 2008

Brilliant It's just brilliant. I love these stick-figure clips - taking complex concepts and cutting them down to the bare bones. Reply

Lazer Nanes November 26, 2008

Anyone care to spell it out simply Y'all agree that "it's" great, but what is it? Reply

Roman Footnick Kingwood, TX November 26, 2008

Equilibrium Ties in perfectly with the current "Soul Maps" class. Great work! Thank you. Reply

Joseph5716 Vernon, Ct. November 26, 2008

Equalibrium The "cool" thing about this project is it gets people talking, thinking, and dare I say DOING. Good, very good. Reply

Anonymous MANC., uk November 26, 2008

cool this is amazing
thank you Reply

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