Acharei: Act Modestly

Rule Number One about living in Israel during Pesach: Israelis have no clue how to wake up and get a move on in the morning.  And being that the entire country is on vacation at once, this little fact can make all the difference.  I told the kids that if they get a move on early, we can go out.  And they did!  We went to the new cable cars in Haifa one day, the science museum there the next.  A boat ride in Teveria on the Kineret after that, followed by a 7 km hike in the hills overlooking Meron (which is pretty good considering I had a 6-year-old with me).  Each day we returned home around 4pm, which gave me the opportunity to enjoy my evening without work, something I never get to do.

The killer was from earlier this week.  Two months ago, I promised my two oldest kids that I would take them to the Judean Desert to do a hike.  So, my good friend took his two kids and together we climbed mountains, hiked in the desert, and confirmed the fact that I’m old and out of shape.  And when he saw that the hike did not kill me, he made a BBQ when we returned, that nearly did…

In this week’s parsha, the Torah describes all that the Kohen Gadol had to do for the service of Yom Kippur.  The highest point of his service is when he entered the Kadosh HaKedoshim (The Holiest of Holies), where the Aron was kept.  Only he was allowed in, and only once a year.

Rav Shimshon Pincus learns an interesting lesson from this.  We learn in halacha, that a person should “walk modestly with Hashem” (Micha 6:8).  This does not only mean that we should be modest in our dress, but it reflects what our attitude should be in our service to Hashem.

It is natural that a person wants others to see him as a righteous person.  And while this is certainly not what a person’s attitude should be, a person is able to use it to push himself to grow.  However, his spiritual advancement will be limited.

The Rambam writes (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3: 13) that while it is a mitzvah to learn day and night, most of one’s wisdom comes from his learning at night.  Rav Pincus explains that this is because nobody sees him learning at night.  During the day, perhaps others seeing him learn helps “inspire” him to learn.  However, at night when nobody is around, if a person learns THEN, then he’s learning “for Hashem” and not himself, and it is exactly THEN when he will experience the most growth.

Last Shabbos we were discussing how to tell if somebody with the title “rabbi” has really earned it or not.  I proposed that when a person goes out, get’s smicha, and then begins to offer himself to the public, such as announcing (out of the blue) that he will be starting to give classes and lectures, perhaps such a person is using the Crown of Torah for his own needs.  However, when a community realizes that a person, even if he does not have official smicha, is a big talmid chacham, and flock to him for his wisdom, then you have good reason to believe he’s the real thing.

Every talmid chacham I know fits that character.  They also sat and learned, did what they needed to do without any fanfare, and eventually they were recognized for their greatness.  If a person truly wants to grow, he should do it with the least amount of fanfare as possible.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!