web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Warning: Arrogance May Be Bad For Your Health

I know Purim is over, but Megillat Esther is so rich with lessons on how people should live their lives – along with the consequences of not doing so – that I wish to share one of the many wisdoms that I have gleaned from reading it. I believe that the world wouldn’t be in the mess it is in – economically, socially and spiritually – if people would only open their eyes to the megillah’s masterful insights on how to behave.

 

A personality trait that often leads to really bad behavior imbues the personality of the story’s bad guy, Haman. Its diametric opposite is found in the characters of the story’s heroes, Esther and Mordechai. These traits are ga’avah and anivut.

 

I suppose that arrogance is the English word that comes closest to describing ga’avah. But this does not do it enough justice. It’s a state of mind whereby a person feels he is better than and superior to everyone, and is even above the rules. It is an attitude that enables a person to look down on other individuals – or even entire groups.  Ga’avah often manifests itself as elitism at best – where only certain people are, for example, allowed into a club, hotel or organization – or blatant racism at worst, which can lead to life-threatening oppression or genocide. It is a characteristic that is ruinous to all relationships and interactions, be it at home or in the workplace, in houses of worship, or in the halls of government.Sadly, there are individuals and groups in our own Orthodox communities who are afflicted with unwarranted ga’avah, which translates into looking down on a fellow Jew because he has, for example, less money, less power, or less “yichus.” It can also apply to things as superficial as having the wrong head covering.

 

Sometimes a ga’avadike person has really achieved quite a bit, and may be financially or socially ahead of the pack. Hence he truly feels “important.” I believe, though, that ga’avah is actually fueled by a subconscious lack of self-liking, the outcome of which is low self-esteem. Since no one likes to think that they are worthless, their bruised ego tries to artificially elevate itself by putting others down, minimizing those they see as an easy target. Unhappily, that target is often a spouse, child, classmate, neighbor, or student. All are at risk of being humiliated or denigrated – or even worse.

 

Looking down in distain, mocking, or making fun of someone is a manifestation of ga’avah. Another sign is a sense of entitlement. An unwavering belief that you deserve more than the next fellow by virtue of your superiority more often than not leads to unmitigated greed. I believe that the collapsing global economy and the near drowning of so many financial and corporate giants who did not sink because of the monetary life-buoys thrown to them by the government was caused by a rampant sense of entitlement and greed that led to caution being thrown to the wind. No doubt it is blatant ga’avah that makes these corporate executives feel that they deserve astronomical bonuses to the tune of millions of dollars – paid for by the “lesser” beings, namely the typical American taxpayer.

 

Conversely, anivut can be described as modesty as it pertains to one’s sense of self-achievement. People with this attribute are usually high achievers; they actually do have something to crow about. But they don’t, since they believe that their accomplishments are not a big deal. Unlike ga’avadike people, they do not toot their own horns or feel superior to anyone.

 

Esther definitely had bragging rights, for she was related to the royal house of Saul and was so incredibly beautiful that she was chosen from hundreds of other gorgeous women to be the king’s consort. Yet she was very unassuming. Her modesty and lack of arrogance even endeared her to Hegai, custodian of the harem, who took her under his wing and advised her.

 

Mordechai also was entitled to feel arrogant. After all he saved the king’s life, and was related to the queen. But he obviously did not brag about his importance, since no one knew these facts. The fact that the king asked if Mordechai was rewarded for saving him clearly shows that Mordechai did not bring it to his or anyone else’s attention after the incident happened – though he certainly deserved to have this publicized.

 

So here’s the life lesson offered by Megillat Esther: Ga‘avah is dangerous – not only to the targets of one’s arrogance but also to the one who exudes it. Haman’s extreme arrogance led to his total downfall. After telling his wife and friends about “the glory of his wealth” (5:11), how the king promoted and elevated him above the other officials, his many sons, and the invitation he received to the queen’s exclusive party, Haman seemingly had it all. Nonetheless, it is declared in 5:13, “all this means nothing to me because of the Jew, Mordechai.” Haman’s bruised ego and insatiable arrogance could not deal with the fact that this one person – out of thousands – would not bow down to him. Ultimately his ga’avah caused him to lose everything. And Esther’s and Mordechai’s anivut led to their elevation – and the saving of the Jewish people.

About the Author:


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 “Warning: Arrogance May Be Bad For Your Health”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Rafael's Spike anti-tank missile launcher.
India to buy $525 Million in Israeli Anti-Tank Missiles
Latest Sections Stories
Nimchinsky-102414-Flag

This past summer was a powerful one for the Jewish people. I will always remember where I was on June 12th when I found out that Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped. I will always remember the look on my sister’s face on June 30th when she told me that they were found. I will […]

Schonfeld-logo1

Avromi often put other people’s interests before his own: he would not defend people whom he believed were guilty (even if they were willing to pay him a lot of money).

Kupfer-102414

The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

My eyes skimmed an article on page 1A. I was flabbergasted. I read the title again. Could it be? It had good news for the Miami Jewish community.

Students in early childhood, elementary, and middle school were treated to an array of hands-on projects to create sukkah decorations such as wind chimes, velvet posters, sand art, paper chains, and more.

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-092614-Books

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Kupfer-080114

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Many go about the business of living frum, observant lives, but they are only going through the motions.

Lately I have been hearing quiet grumblings from people who admit that they regret not encouraging their sons to get a post-high school education after a year or two of learning.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/warning-arrogance-may-be-bad-for-your-health/2009/03/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: