web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Keeping The Ego In Check

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

In this week’s portion, Moshe is told he would not enter Israel because he hit the rock instead of speaking to it. Immediately afterward, Moshe sends a delegation to Edom asking that the Jewish people be allowed to go through his territory on their way to Israel (Numbers 20:14).

Commenting on this juxtaposition, the Midrash states: In the usual way, when a man is slighted by his business partner he wishes to have nothing to do with him; whereas Moses though he was punished on account of Israel did not rid himself of their burden, but sent messengers (Bamidbar Rabbah 19:7).

Nechama Leibowitz reinforces this idea by noting that the text states that Moshe sent the delegation to Edom from Kadesh. This fact is unnecessary. In the words of Leibowitz: “Wherever no change of locale is recorded in the text it is presumed that the event described took place at the last mentioned place. Kadesh is mentioned again to emphasize Moshe’s adherence to his mission of bringing the people to the land even after his rebuff in spite of the fact that he had been explicitly excluded from it.”

An important lesson may be learned here. Leaders must be careful to subdue their ego. The cause is larger than the personal concerns of any one person. Although Moses is condemned to die in the desert he continues to help the Jews enter Israel by sending messengers to Edom.

Compare this to the haftarah, the prophetic portion read this week. Yiftach promises God that if he is victorious in war whatever he sees first upon his return will be offered to God. Alas, he returns victorious and sees his daughter.

Here the Midrash (Tanchuma) notes that Yiftach could have gone to Pinchas the high priest to annul the vow. But Yiftach said, “Should I, the head of tribes of Israel, stoop to go to that civilian? Pinchas also did not go out of his way to go to Yiftach, proclaiming, Should I, a high priest, lower myself and go to that boor?”

Unlike Moshe, who was without ego, Yiftach and Pinchas were filled with it and it cost the life of that child.

A story is told of a chassidic rebbe who carried two notes in his pocket. One stated “The world was created for me.” The second declared “I am like the dust of the earth.” The first statement does not resonate unless balanced by the latter. Indeed, if ego is not kept tightly in check it can overwhelm or subtly subvert the endeavor to which one is dedicated.

About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Keeping The Ego In Check”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Judaism Stories
Staum-013015

People often think that all they are missing is “just a little more” and then they can be truly happy.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The Midrash is teaching a fundamental message of what it means to be a religious person.

Rabbi Sacks

Torah opposes slavery; G-d desires the free worship of free human beings, yet slavery’s permitted-?!

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

Approximately 18 years ago, my uncle called me into his office saying he had an urgent matter to discuss. I didn’t know what he had in mind.

“Where is God?” asked the Kotzker Rebbe “God is not everywhere but only where you let Him enter”

An Explosion In The Trench
‘With A Glowing Hot Knife’
(Yevamos 120b)

Her first tactic was tefillah; she immediately began to recite one perek after another of Tehillim.

When a miracle occurs that transcends nature, Hashem has broken the laws of nature to create the miracle.

“How could you have expected my glasses to be there?” argued Mr. Weiss. “You shouldn’t have to pay.”

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

A strange midrash of fruit trees surrounding the Nation of Israel as they walked to freedom

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss

“Where is God?” asked the Kotzker Rebbe “God is not everywhere but only where you let Him enter”

Weiss-012315

In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site

Recouping $ and assets from Germans and Swiss for their Holocaust actions is rooted in the Exodus

The plagues don’t reveal a God of vengeance but of compassion; after each triplet Egypt can repent

“He looked this way and that way” means Moses looked within to see whether he was Egyptian or Jewish

When Yaakov asks “Who are these?” he’s means “Do my grandchildren identify as Egyptians or Jews?”

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

The dreams revealed their differences: The butler was active; the baker completely passive.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/keeping-the-ego-in-check/2014/06/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: