Let My People Know

"Everything depends on how it is used"

In contrast to the precise lists of Christian virtues and vices, the Jewish tradition does not define attributes as being one thing or another. 

Even the attribute of Chesed, for example, which is the source of love, has to be adjudged as to whether it comes from the holy or the unholy. 

The same thing is true of fear of God, Gevurah. 

Everything depends on how it is used. 

There is an old saying, attributed to Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pshische, to the effect that a Jew should be good, God-fearing, and wise.

But since a merely good man is liable to be lustful, a merely God-fearing man becomes a priest, and he who is only wise is open to heresy, a Jew has to be all of them together.

This way of seeing things as a whole is important in many ways, in the inner as well as the external life. 

That which can be very admirable at first may end up by becoming its opposite. 

Out of Abraham came Ishmael, out of Isaac came Esau. 

Jacob's descendants seem to have managed to end up on the side of the holy, but this was so precisely because Abraham and Isaac personified extremes in terms of the Sefirot-Chesed and Gevurah-whereas Jacob personified the merging of the two in the Sefirah of Tiferet, an Attribute of harmony and beauty, free of the evils of extremism. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From In the Beginning by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz