Shabbos Parashas Vaeira

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaDaas (Gate of the Intellect), Chapter 10
What is the sign that a person is truly humble? A truly humble person has minimal expectations. He does not hanker for any pleasure. He seeks only what is absolutely necessary to stay alive. And even this he does not expect to come to him easily. He does not demand what he needs as if he is entitled to it. Rather, he regards fulfillment of his needs as a gracious kindness.
A teaching in Sukkah 52b reflects this idea. The Gemara relates that Hashem will approach Moshiach ben David and say (Tehillim 2:8): “Ask of Me and I will make nations your inheritance.” Having seen that Moshiach ben Yosef was killed, Moshiach ben David will respond: “I ask nothing of You except for life.” Let us ponder this exchange. Hashem is telling Moshiach ben David that he could ask for anything; He is saying (Tehillim 81:11): “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” It is as if all the good things of this world are laid before him for him to take. Yet he does not dare ask for great blessing. All the more so should we take a modest stance. A person should understand that he might not deserve his daily bread.
Let us consider our forefather Avraham. Who among us is as great as he? Yet when he approached Hashem to pray for Sodom – pleading not for himself but for others – he appealed to Hashem for grace. “May Hashem please not be angered” (Bereishis 18:30). “Behold, now, I wish to speak to my Lord, although I am but dust and ashes” (ibid. 18:27). The same humble stance is taken by countless other saintly people. Let us follow their example. Let us not wish for anything. Let us not forget our lowly stature. How can we possibly wish for pleasures? Let us be satisfied that we are alive. Let us view life as so precious to us that we count every moment. Let us imagine that we were sentenced to death, and someone came forward and declared himself ready to plead on our behalf. Imagine how much we would embrace him! Imagine how we would beg him to rescue us quickly!
Let us in this way recognize the preciousness of life. Let us realize that life is not a given. We have no guarantee that tomorrow we will still be alive. Our eyes are lifted upward to Hashem, the One grants life, the one who – in the words of Birkas HaGomel – bestows good things upon the guilty, and we hope He will sustain us, little by little. Let us not be foolish and lose what we are given. Let us accept at every moment the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us give thanks for what we have received in the past, and plead for our needs in the future.
In summary, let us keep an arrow shot’s distance from the garb of Hashem, our Master and King, to whom alone belongs pride and greatness, splendor and glory, ascendancy and dominion. Let us flee far from the trappings of grandeur, for they do not befit us. Let us remember that Hashem created us out of nothingness. Let us realize that it behooves us to be humble and submissive, and love our Creator, who maintains our existence moment by moment. Let us keep Him at the forefront of our minds and thank Him for His kindness toward us, and then we will succeed in life.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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