Friday, January 16, 2009

Selfless Service

Chazal say that lashon hara brings no physical pleasure to the speaker, much in the way that a snake enjoys no physical benefit from biting. The Avnei Nezer zt”l explains that this is why the incense atones for the sin of lashon hara. During the actual burning of the incense, the Kohein Gadol experiences no physical pleasure from the odor. Chazal stated that even he cannot be physically present while he stands within the cloud of the incense, for “no man shall be in the ohel moed...” (Vayikra Rabbah 16:17, #21) How, then, could he have both stood in that place and not been present? When ruach hakodesh rested on him in the kodesh kodashim, it elevated him to the level of an angel, in a state of complete transcendence of his physical senses. This uplifting was a result of the Kohein Gadol’s selflessness, his lack of expectation of receiving any material reward from the avodah.
The Mei Hashiloach zt”l writes that, in this respect, the Kohein Gadol represents the gadol ha’dor. Like the Kohein Gadol, the Torah leader of the generation often does not derive any gain from his toil on behalf of the Jewish people. This is why their words are able to bestow spiritual life for all time—because everything they do is for the sake of heaven.
Rav Leib zt”l, the son of the Chofetz Chayim zt”l, once asked his father a question that touched on this subject.
“Father, will people ever know and understand how hard you worked and how much effort you put into writing each and every word of the Mishnah Berurah?”
The Chofetz Chayim replied, “What does it matter if no one praises me or even comprehends how much work went into its writing? If they don’t realize that they should be grateful for all my efforts, what difference does it make? Do I toil to receive their applause? My only desire is to honor Hashem—and He knows all about every single effort I expended!”


Shorty said...

I like this lesson - as always :)

Micha Golshevsky said...

Very glad to hear it!