Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Nisyonos for Great People

We can make a mistake and think that our g'dolim are past any sort of challenges that would allow them to understand our situation.  "They don't understand what it is to work in a company and have to deal with the kinds of struggles I face on a daily basis."  However, Chazal tell us that "gadol mei'chaverio,yitzro gadol hemenu" -- the greater a person is, the greater are his challenges.  Not only do the g'dolim understand what we are experiencing, they are themselves be challenged daily in ways that would paralyze us with fear.

The Torah gives us a prime example, Korach and his attack on Moshe Rabeinu.  We all know, as Rashi tells us clearly, that Korach made his mistake because of jealousy and a desire for kavod.  Moshe triumphed simply be being humble and doing what was right.  Simple.  Easy to understand.  Practically boring.

Before you fall into slumber, however, please note: No one stood up for Moshe Rabeinu.  If it was just Korach talking behind Moshe Rabeinu's back to some of his cronies, it certainly would be simple, easy to understand, and boring.  But Korach came with an entourage of 250 g'dolim from the dor dei'ah -- the generation that stood at Har Sinai and experienced direct contact with the Creator.  None of them had reason to be jealous, none were looking for lost glory.  Their only reason for joining was because Korach's arguments made sense.  More than that, the entire populace -- all that same dor dei'ah -- stood silent because of doubt.  The entire nation was unsure who was right.  Obviously Korach was not going around saying that HaShem didn't tell Moshe Rabeinu to appoint his brother as kohein and Korach's cousin as nasi.  Everyone knew that had been a direct command from HaShem.  So what was the argument?

b'derech sh'adam rotzeh leileich ba, molichim oso -- the way a person wants to go creates a spiritual environment that encourages movement in that direction.  That's true for anyone.  Moshe Rabeinu was also given a privilege never before and never since granted -- he could turn to ask HaShem whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.  Korach's charge was that Moshe Rabeinu had let himself want his brother to be appointed to kohein.  Moshe Rabeinu, on the other hand, had to stand in front of the entire nation and pledge that every fiber of his being wanted only ratzon HaShem and that none of his personal feelings influenced even his most hidden desires.  Is it any wonder that Korach's arguments sounded more than plausible and that Moshe Rabeinu stood alone and isolated in his simple declaration of absolute objectivity?

Korach's feelings of jealousy did lead to his mistake.  But if our feelings of jealousy are a 9 volt battery, Korach's was a two million volt high tension line.  If our resolve to do what's right and not allow our personal feelings to affect our decisions is a mole hill, Moshe Rabeinu's was Mt. Everest.

Ultimately, then, we all deal with the same challenges.  Our g'dolim understand us and can guide us very well because they have experienced and continue to experience all those same challenges.  That is (again) also why it is so very important to have a rav; we each need someone who has experience communicating with us.  Not because we need some who knows how to talk to us, but because we need practice in paying attention.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…