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Thought for the Day: Derech Eretz Kadma la'Torah

I heard R' Henoch Leibowitz, zecher tzadik v'kadosh livracha, say that a person can have gadlus and not be a gadol.  He can have gadlus in his knowledge, but not be a gadol because that knowledge is associated with him and not an expression of his very being.  When Betzalel was told by Moshe Rabbeinu to build the keilim and then the mishkan, he didn't just do as he was told.  Rather, Betzalel said, "Everything I know from the Rebbie up till now would lead me to believe that the mishkan should be built first and then the keilim"  (Rashi to Shemos 38:32).  Why didn't Betzalel just do as he was told by his rebbie; a man who had just come done from weeks of intense instruction from the Creator of the World, Himself?  Betzalel was looking to Moshe Rabbeinu to correct his thought processes in order that he could appreciate and feel that this was the proper way to proceed. (In fact, Moshe Rabbeinu in this case admitted to a mistake and praised Betzalel for his questioning and analysis.)

It is a very narrow path indeed, that the Torah demands of us.  Off to the one side is slavish obedience to authority, off to the other is rebellion against authority.  The only way to remain on that narrow path is to have approach the Torah with extreme derech eretz.  To appreciate both who I am and the awesome responsibility that I have to correctly imbue myself with Torah; to become an authentic channel for revealing HaShem in this world by living according to His Torah.

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