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The Axe Needs a Wooden Handle to Cut Wood

How much of our pain is self inflicted? How much of our confusion is self-generated? As Bishop Butler remarked, "men first kick up a dust and then complain they cannot see."

The midrash offers a kindred insight. The Rabbis tell us that when iron was created, the trees began to tremble. Here was their certain foe in the shape of the axe. God said to them "Why are you trembling? If wood is not joined to it, not one of you will suffer." Without the axe handle, the iron is useless. The midrashic lesson is clear: that which we fear often gains its power through our own contribution.

- Rabbi David Wolpe, Off the Pulpit e-newsletter for 4/11/13