Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Key to Humility

Many people would come to the Imrei Menachem of Alexander, zt”l, seeking his guidance on how to achieve humility. He would say, “In Chovos HaLevavos we find a very deep story which I hold is the key to attaining humility. Rabbeinu Bachaya relates that a pious man once met a group of warriors on their way home from their exploits. They had won the war, and were laden with the spoils. He said to them, ‘You have returned from the small war. Now you will have to wage the real battle: the struggle against your evil inclination!’”
The Rebbe would then explain, “The Chovos HaLevavos is not referring to a pious man meeting actual soldiers returning from a physical war. Such people are hardly the types who care much for the milchemes hayetzer, the inner battle with their lower selves. This pious man had met with sincere servants of Hashem who had already defeated their evil inclinations by ascending new levels of Torah and avodah. Our pious man explained to them that they had really only just begun. True, they had obtained a measure of success and had even ‘taken spoils,’ but the real fight against the ego that gets inflated from accomplishments still awaited them. The most important battle is against pride, since it is only the prideful person who feels secure in sitting on his laurels and no longer moving forward. The more enamored we are of our achievements, the less we feel how far we still have to go and how much more we have yet to achieve!”

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