Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rav Shmelke's Humility

On a certain occasion, when Rav Shmelke of Nikolsberg, zt”l, was honored publicly, many townspeople present noted that the Rebbe did not seem affected one iota by the people’s adulation. How could he be so completely unmoved by homage that would have caused anyone else to be carried away by pride? After the public celebration, Rav Shmelke retreated to his room.
One of the followers who had wondered about the Rebbe’s comportment happened to be passing in the hallway just outside the room. As he walked past, he heard a strange voice from within. He couldn’t help but listen at the door and was quite shocked by what he heard.
In a sycophantic tone, one voice cooed, “Rebbe, how awesomely great you are! You are the tzaddik of the generation!” Another then said in a sickeningly sweet tone, “Rebbe, your word is like Toras Moshe M’Sinai!”
Thinking that there was a gathering of followers in the chamber, the chossid outside knocked. He was invited in, but was shocked to find that the room was empty, save for the Rebbe himself. Seeing the man’s clear discomfort, Rav Shmelke said, “Surely you were puzzled to hear me saying such things to myself?”
The man nodded.
The Rebbe continued, “I always find that speaking out the words of praise helps me feel how empty they really are!”

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