Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Bitter Medicine

Rav Rafael of Bershad, zt”l, explained that when a person slips up or makes an error in davening or is embarrassed, he should not allow himself to be vexed by this in the slightest. “This is just like a person who is sick and requires a bitter medicine to heal him. Although he would prefer to avoid taking the medication altogether, if he is sick he will take it and thank the doctor for administering it.
“Similarly, Hashem arranges for a person to err when he falls into arrogance. In order to rectify this, a person is made to stumble and this naturally makes him feel very small. Although such failings are a direct result of Hashem’s mercy upon us, we are better off searching for a simpler anti-dote to our hubris so we will not be required to endure such embarrassing moments. If a person yearns to attain humility with his entire heart, Hashem will help him attain it.
“But when we fail we must never give in to feelings of depression which distance us from Hashem. Rav Pinchas of Koretz, zt”l, once encouraged me on just this point with the words, ‘Just don’t be afraid.’
“I always understood this to mean that a person should never allow anything to depress or frighten him. Instead one should thank Hashem for the difficulty, saying, ‘Master of the world. You have sent this trouble so I should attain humility and be healed spiritually, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Please protect me from stumbling in this manner in the future. Instead, protect me from the defilement of arrogance by awakening a desire within me to attain a truly humble spirit, so there is no longer any need to cause me to stumble and fall in the future.’”
When someone asked Rav Rafael for advice to help him conquer his ego, Rav Rafael answered, “Hashem created a person so that he would spend his entire life searching for ways to be saved from pride!”

1 comment:

Micha Golshevsky said...

This favorite story is from Imrei Pinchas, Shaar Anavah, 19 & 23.