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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabi Meir’

Shemayah and Avtalyon

Monday, December 5th, 2011

An Unlikely Rise To Greatness

From the descendants of Sancherev, a heathen King of Ashur who attempted to destroy Yerushalayim, arose great teachers in Israel — Shemayah and Avtalyon. At an early age, they became proselytes and devoted their lives to the study of Torah. Eventually they became great scholars. Wher­ever they went, people followed them to hear them expound the living words of Hashem

One day, the Kohen Gadol came out of the Beis HaMikdash and began walking home. When people saw the Kohen Gadol they began following him. Soon a large multitude of people gathered behind him and one of the leaders called out: “Make way and give honor to the crown of priesthood!”

At that moment the Sages, Shemayah and Avtalyon, hap­pened to pass by. Immediately, the entire crowd left the Kohen Gadol and began to follow them. Again the leader’s cry rang out: “Make way and give honor to the crown of Torah!” The people thought more of the Sages than they did of the Kohen Gadol as they pressed close behind them to catch some pearls of wisdom.

 

Kohen Gadol Jealous When the Kohen Gadol saw the way the people honored the Sages, he became envious and angry. He kept his tem­per and ignored the Sages. The Sages, however, greeted the Kohen Gadol

“Greetings to you, Kohen Gadol,” they called out. “Will you be kind enough to give us a blessing?”

Angrily, the Kohen Gadol retorted:  “Let the descendants of our people go in peace and be blessed.”

The people heard this remark and they kept quiet. They realized that the Kohen Gadol was insulting the Sages by re­minding them of their heathen birth.

Shemayah and Avtalyon didn’t feel offended, and in a humble tone replied: “True, let the descendants of our people go and come in peace and be blessed, provided they follow in the footsteps of Aharon Kohen Gadol (who loved peace and pursued peace). But let not the son of Aharon go in peace, if he does not follow in his footsteps and emulate his good traits.”

The Kohen Gadol realized that he had committed a sin by insulting the Sages and he remained silent. The crowd, how­ever, began heaping insults upon the Kohen Gadol, who was forced to retire ignominiously; then they followed the Sages and ac­corded them the greatest honor.

Therefore, our Sages state: “A scholar, although he may be of illegitimate birth, takes precedence over a Kohen Gadol who is an ignoramus.”

 

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Rabi Shimon Ben Gamliel

Pride And Honor Chazal teach that a man should always be gentle and avoid honor and haughtiness. It was because this advice was not followed that a grave dispute arose amongst some of our Sages.

One day, the following mishna was taught in the Acad­emy: When the Prince (nasi) enters, all the people rise and do not resume their seats until he requests them to sit. When the Rosh Sanhedrin enters, the people occupying the two rows of seats facing the entrance rise and remain standing until he takes his seat. When the Chacham enters and remains stand­ing, everyone whom he passes rises until the Sage has taken his seat.

This mishna was taught during the time Rabi Shim­on ben Gamaliel was the nasi, Rabi Natan was the Rosh and Rabi Meir was the Chacham. When Rabi Shimon ben Gamaliel would enter, all the people would arise and remain standing un­til he took his seat. Likewise, the same honor was accorded to Rabi Natan and Rabi Meir.

Rabi Shimon, wanting to increase the prestige and influence of the prince’s office, said: “If all the people arise for all three of us, there is no difference between me and the others, and I would prefer that a distinction should be made to elevate the prince’s office.”

He thereupon issued a decree and enacted the rules laid down in the above mishna. However, he did so in the absence of Rabi Meir and Rabi Natan. They following day, when they entered the academy and saw that the people did not rise for them, they asked for a reason. They were told that Rabi Shimon had issued a decree order­ing these variations.

Rabi Meir became angry and he said to Rabi Natan, “I am the Chacham and you are the Rosh; let us also en­act some rules in our behalf.”

 

Attempt To Trap “What can we do?” asked Rabi Natan.

“Let us ask Rabi Shimon to teach us the Talmudic tract Uktzin. We are well aware that Rabi Shimon is not versed in this tractate and when he will not be able to answer our questions, we will say to him: ‘Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?’ (Tehillim 106:2). He who can teach all of His praises. We will then depose him and you will take his place and become Prince and I will take your place.”

Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You (Part II)

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

In Part I (Family Issues 10-14-2011) we discussed how many of us personalize different situations and how that affects our effectiveness in dealing with those situations.  Specifically we focused on foster parents who have expectations of their role and what will help their foster child and what happens when the foster child and/or the foster parent doesn’t have those expectations filled.

This led us to the prevailing difficulty of dealing with an attitude of entitlement.  We said that entitlement is a sense by a person that something is coming to them simply because they want it.  “It’s coming to me.  You have no right not to give me that.  I must have that.  I deserve that.”

This sense of “I deserve it so therefore it’s mine” has unfortunately reached epidemic levels in today’s society  – in both the secular and Jewish world.  Let’s be honest… we have all felt this way at some time, on some level.  In fact, next time you go to a buffet where the food is there for the taking, watch as people take more food than they could eat, or would ever eat if the food weren’t there in abundance. “I paid for the buffet, they have all this food for me to take and I’m definitely going to get my money’s worth.  I deserve it since I paid for it.”

Most people who feel entitled will always have a reason or rationale behind their thought process. Whether it’s “I deserve it” or “because of what I have been through…” the end result is the same – somehow its coming to them.  It has so proliferated our culture that many governments – on a federal or local level – have what’s called “entitlement programs.”  Now in the United States, there is much discussion and debate about government cutbacks, especially in regards to social services programs.  However, if these programs are “entitlements,” the basic argument is that they can’t be touched because, after all, people are entitled to these benefits.  Even within schools, this entitlement theory exists.  In this form, children are entitled to advance to the next level or class, whether or not they have successfully completed and earned a passing grade.

Where does this come from?  Sure there are those who theorize on the positive and negative effects of holding a child back or pushing them ahead.  However, what must be examined and debated is what we are teaching children when, regardless of whether or not their work is completed, they get moved ahead.  What about the employee who has been with a company for several years who feels, regardless of the merit of his or her work or the success of the company, he or she is entitled to a raise?

In Jean Twenge’s book , Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before, she supports the assumption that people from their teens to their 20’s are plagued with entitlement.  Is this increased sense of entitlement a society shift or more of a generational one?  In fact, did this sense of entitlement always exist and was it always this bad?  As the saying goes, “in degree, not kind.”  That is, it’s the amount of entitlement, or degree, that becomes the problem.  A sense of entitlement has existed.  In his book The Me New Generation, author Jake Halpern describes the entitlement generation as “smart, brash, even arrogant, and endowed with a commanding sense of entitlement.” They are the “co-workers who drive you nuts.” On the flip-side, he says that these individuals are also free-thinkers who are willing to break the status quo and pursue their dreams. Their confidence is what allows them to accomplish great things and help the companies they work for grow and be successful.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/don%e2%80%99t-bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you-part-ii/2011/10/26/

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