Humility: Recognize your own shortcomings and disregard those of your fellow man
Ahh, the time-honored debate between anavah and ga’avah…well not really according to Rav Yisrael. He takes a different spin on what everyone from the Ramchal to Rabbi Dr. Twerski says about humility, in my humble opinion (no pun intended).
“Recognize your own shortcomings and disregard those of your fellow man.” This is a classic example of how bein adam l’atzmo (how we relate to ourselves) can flow into bein adam l’chavero (interpersonal relations). The first step in true humility or anavah is to know where we are lacking.
I think that I need to be very aware of where I fall short. I know, since I started blogging about the 13 Midos, I’m much more sensitive to what my own shortcomings are. It’s important to know what my accomplishments are, but even more important for me to know what areas I need to work on.
An idea attributed to the Baal Shem Tov comes to mind. It’s said in his name that when we see negative midos in others it’s really a reflection on those same midos that are lacking in ourselves. For example, let’s say you look in your spouse’s van and notice that it’s not so clean. And you happen to say something to your spouse about it (hypothetically, of course). The odds are that your car isn’t too clean either! It’s easier to say or think something negative about someone, but that’s exactly why we shouldn’t (more on this idea in a future posting). It’s just bad manners (which is different than bad midos) to point the finger at the other guy. It’s also hypocritical.
“…disregard those of your fellow man” is the tricky part. There’s a great line by Rav Kook that I love. He said that he would rather be guilty of baseless love, than of baseless hatred. Most people have some quality that we can admire, even beyond the “Yiddishe Neshama” factor. It’s really a sensitivity training issue. On the most basic level, there’s always something that someone else can do better than we can. Looking at that one thing instead of what someone is lacking is a good start. Each time I deal with someone, I need to stop looking at their shortcomings. There’s so much to gain by finding traits in others that I can grow from. That helps me come to grips with my own shortcomings.
But what about the person who took my parking space on the street? Or the person who is always interrupting me? Or the obnoxiously loud family at the park on Shabbos? Or the person who shoved me just get that last copy of Orchos Tzadikim that was on sale? Those people only have “shortcomings”.
Alright, sometimes when dealing with others we need a little creativity in the “dan l’kof zechus” department. I constantly tell myself enough that how I treat others is directly connected to my active relationship with Hashem.
By not focusing on others’ shortcomings I’m fulfilling the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael, which is a pretty good thing, in my opinion.
“I write not because I have the strength to write, but because I do not have the strength to remain silent.”
-Rav Avraham Yitzchok Kook zt’l
I came across the quote last night. I had copied it from somewhere and scribbled it in a journal way back in 1994. I wasn’t planning on posting, but I decided that consistency is a good thing, even if it means writing when I don’t feel like it.
It’s been a long week. Primarily due to the matzav in Eretz Yisrael. I’m worried, just like everyone else. Then, there’s the shadow of the Three Weeks hanging over Klal Yisrael. Finally it’s been a long week for for me blog-wise. I read over all of my postings and I feel that I probably take myself too seriously. That was not my intent. There is a more casual side to me.
Ever see the Beatles’ movie HELP? It’s great. The best part is the blurb on the back of the box about the flick. It states that the Beatles made the movie at a period of their life when they didn’t take themselves too seriously. While I enjoying posting about Rav Yisrael’s 13 Midos, it’s taken a toll on me. It’s like Elul in July.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole Ir Miklat-unintentional murder deal that we’ll hear in shul this Shabbos. Like most people, I try to relate the parshios to my life. As I’ve gotten older I think some of my core-personality has gotten misplaced. Maybe I’ve unintentionally “killed” my fun-loving-humorous-go-with-the-flow self, and I’ve been exiled to an Ir Miklat of my own design. I hope that’s not the case.
If I killed someone by accident, and retreated to an Ir Miklat, I’d never sleep. How could I when I know that my freedom would be dependant on the death of one person… the Kohen Gadol? Who would sleep?
“When a man learns that just as he broods over himself so does G-d yearn for him, he is at the beginning of a higher level of consciousness” (Rabbi Steinsaltz). This quote appears at the end of an article written by Rav Moshe Weinberger. You can read the entire article here. It’s well worth it.
Rabbi Harry Maryles wrote an excellent piece, about what it take to make a Gadol Hador for today. I posted this:
I wonder if yiddishkeit can actually handle a Gadol HaDor? I’m hoping to get feedback from people older than I am (I was born in 1970), but was yiddishkeit more unified 35-50 years ago. I know there were less yeshivas and day schools. Were we more tolerant of other hashkafos in the 50’s and 60’s? Parents and their children were, literally, the post-Holocaust generation. They survived near extinction and saw a home-land be born. I think most frum Jews under the age of 40 today would have a problem universally accepting ONE Gadol.
Now, let me expand why it will be hard for those under the age of 40 to have ONE Gadol. Once I read Rabbi Maryles’ post I solved a puzzle that had been brewing in my head for over two years. Most trends and movements in the non-Jewish world eventually ripple into frum society. The best example is the Enlightenment with brought about Haskalah.
Over two years ago I read about Generation C on the Trendwatching website. Check this out here, and then click back.
I wondered when would the frum world become victims to Generation C… the content Generation? We live in a world where we control as much of our individual content as possible. I’ve got 40 ringers on my Treo, not to mention the mp3’s I can use as ringers (not during Sefira, of course). We’re blogging, My Spacing, and creating our own content. Even Artscroll has cashed in on helping us indivualized our davening content… here.
Do we really need four types of leather to choose for our siddurim?
The general division of frum yidden is only magnified by those of us who fall into “Generation X”. So named, because we don’t fit into any description. We are fragmented. It’s really no surprise that there is division among todays’ RW, LW, Charedim, Modern, parents, teachers, and principals. If we don’t know who we are, how can anyone accept on Gadol?
As I think about what e-lists I belong to I’m as confused as anyone. On any given Friday, I’m printing: Rabbi Frand, Rav Kook, Yated, and Torah MiTzion…just to name a few. Why? Because I’m controlling the content of what I read on Shabbos!!!
If I had to guess, my generation won’t have a Gadol Hador. It will take a generation to realize that fracture won’t help klal Yisroel. With Hashem’s help my children and Rabbi Maryles’ grandchildren will have worked out the issues and once again we will have a Gadol.