Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Nature of Humility

Our sages teach that even a tzaddik who is haughty will lose out in the next world, since Hashem will only crown those tzaddikim who have true humility. When Rav Shmuel Rosenberg of Unsdorf, zt”l, traveled to Kashoi for Shabbos he was met with vast honor which caused him no end of pain. On Shabbos, he explained, “Now I understand why we ask Hashem to give us honor in Birkas Hachodesh. Honor causes an honest person pain since he knows that he doesn’t deserve it at all. Nowpain in itself atones for sin and it also makes one have a broken heart which leads to teshuvah. It is because honor is such a wonderful catalyst to enable any thinking person to return to his Source that we beseech Hashem for honor.
He went on, “Rav Meir of Premishlan, zt”l, once explained the verse in Tehillim in a similar fashion, applying it specifically to when people are given honor while they travel. The verse states: 'ואדם ביקר'—when a person gets יקר, honor, 'בל ילין'—and he ‘does not take time to repose’ and consider his ways in the tent of teshuvah, 'נמשל כבהמות נדמו'—he is no better than a thoughtless beast!”
As is well known, the Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, would run away from any honor. Once his son asked whether this was really the proper path to take. “After all, each month in Birkas Hachodesh we ask Hashem for a life of wealth and honor?”
The Chofetz Chaim explained that his son really had not understood the true intent of that line of davening. “This is a request for the klal that Jews be wealthy and respected. Similarly, we find in the Yomim Noraim prayers, 'ותן כבוד לעמך'. It is not a request that one be more distinguished than an average Jew!”

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