Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Banishing Pride

Rav Ya’akov of Lissa, zt”l, the author of the famed Nesivos, had a very unusual custom. Before he gave his shiur he would close himself in a room without any seforim. Everyone wondered what he was doing all alone in this room for such a long time. There were many speculations. Some felt that was davening for success while others believed he was reviewing the shiur by heart and testing its mettle to see if there were any weaknesses. One curious student couldn’t control himself: he secreted himself in the room to see what the Nesivos would do. What he saw didn’t leave him until his dying day.

The Nesivos, zt”l, entered the room and locked the door. He then prostrated himself on a thin board on the floor and started to admonish himself in a powerful voice repeating again and again the verse in Tehilim (50: 16): "ולרשע אמר אלוקים מה לך לספר חקי ותשא בריתי עלי פיך"“And Hashem said to the wicked: Why should you speak of my laws and bear the covenant of My Torah upon your mouth?”

For the entire half hour he continued to intone this with more and more feeling. At the end of the half hour, the Rav stood up and took some water out of a cup to rinse away his tears. After drying off the water, the Rav went to give his shiur, completely oblivious to the student whose life he had completely changed. For how could the talmid not be transformed when he saw with his own eyes what it means to accept literally that pride is a form of idolatry?

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