Thursday, December 15, 2005

ONCE UPON A CHASID: Playing It Safe (Vayishlach)


Kislev 14, 5766 * December 15, 2005


Parshat Vayishlach

I am unworthy (Genesis 32:11)

* * *

Playing It Safe
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A certain chassid was 'notorious' for his extreme humility and self-effacement. Once he was asked: "Does not the Talmud say that a Torah scholar must not belittle himself too much? That although he must be humble, he is to retain 'one eighth of one eighth of pride?"

Replied the chassid: "Let us assume that you are right, and that when I come to stand before the heavenly court it will indeed be found that I am a 'Torah scholar.' 'Hmm' the supernal judge will sternly demand 'What have we here? I see a Torah scholar. Where is your 'eighth of an eighth'?!' Let us further assume, my friend, that as you claim, I was somewhat deficient in this area. I guess that this would put me into somewhat of a bind. Nevertheless, I am fairly confidant I will somehow manage to scrape together enough evidence of ego and pride in my life to satisfy the talmudic requirement.

"But what of following possibility: I come before the heavenly court to account for my life and I am told: ' 'Eighth of eighth's we see aplenty, but where is the 'Torah scholar'?' You see, I'd rather take my chances with the first scenario..."


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