Tuesday, December 02, 2014

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How Arrogance Really Is Evil

One of the chassidim of the Mitteler Rebbe (the 2nd Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch) was known for studying and praying with great devotion, and displaying a kind, gentle manner to others. Yet, he still had a serious character flaw. He greatly admired his own virtues. Afraid that he was growing arrogant, the chassid decided to approach his Rebbe for guidance.

After hearing the chassid describe his predicament, Rabbi DovBer was silent for a moment, and then responded:  When Hashem created the world, He created both good and evil. After these two elements came into being, they came before Hashem and asked for their respective missions. “Spread the light of goodness and kindness in the world,” Hashem instructed the Good Side. “This is achieved by making people aware of their Creator.”

Evil asked, “But will I be able to do my job? Will people really listen to me?” Hashem then instructed the Evil Side to combat the good, thereby giving people the choice and opportunity to overcome adversity. The Evil Side asked, “But will I be able to do my job? Will people really listen to me?” When the Creator responded in the affirmative, the Evil Side asked to be told its name. “You will be called the Nachash (snake),” said the Creator. Upon hearing this, the Nachash became worried. He was afraid that his name alone would frighten people away and doom his mission. “Have no fear,” reassured Hashem, “you will succeed.” Indeed, the Nachash was successful in misleading Chava to sin, convincing her to eat from the forbidden fruit in the Gan Eden and to share her sin with Adam.

After eating from the same fruit, Hashem banished the pair from Eden, and thus began all of life’s challenges. However, when Adam and Chava realized their sin, they repented completely and managed to atone for their folly. Seeing the holiness that now permeated their lives, the Serpent came before the Creator again: “Destroy me,” he implored. “I will never be able to succeed now!” “Have no fear,” responded the Creator. “I will change your name to Angel of Death. No one will recognize you.”

The Evil Side – disguised as the Angel of Death – did his sinister work for generations, until our grandparents Avraham (Abraham) and Sarah began spreading the knowledge of Hashem in their surroundings. Forlorn, the Angel of Death complained again that his job was too difficult, well-nigh impossible. “Fear not,” said the Creator, “I will change your name again. From now on, you will be known as Satan. No one will recognize you.”

So, Satan began his career. His work went well until Moshe made his appearance. When he began teaching Torah, Satan was ready to throw in the towel for good. He appeared before the Creator asking for a merciful end; now he truly felt useless. Again, his name was changed. This time, he was renamed “Arrogance.”

Arrogance now began his career. This time, his disguise was so good that he even penetrated houses of Torah learning. The more a true scholar studies, the more he realizes how little he really knows. However, under the influence of Arrogance, people would study and not be humbled by their knowledge. Instead, they assumed airs of superiority and looked down with disdain at the unlearned. Of course, they sugarcoated these feelings by claiming to defend the dignity of their knowledge, not their own person.

This continued until Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov arrived in this world. He revealed the true unity of G‑d, before whom all are equal—no matter their level of scholarship.

Again the Evil Side came before the Creator, disguised as Arrogance, asking for a merciful end. Again his name was changed. This time instead of plain Arrogance, it would be known as “Fear of Arrogance.” Being less bold than plain old Arrogance, Fear of Arrogance could do its work in peace.

“Now listen here,” concluded the Mitteler Rebbe, “you should know that Fear of Arrogance is Arrogance, who is Satan, who is the Angel of Death, who is the Nachash himself! Quickly, throw him out of your house because your life is at risk!”

Source: Rshimos Dvorim, vol. 4, pp. 187-189

3 comments:

Leah said...

Niiiice.

Josh said...

This one forces you to think hard. Thanks.

s said...

excellent point, it's good to know our good qualities, but we should also be humble.

Another good one
http://klalperspectives.org/rabbi-moshe-weinberger/

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