Tag Archives: God

Why Public Acclaim Can Harm Self-Respect

Vechol adam lo yiyeh be’ohel moed bevo’o lechapeir bakodesh ad tzeiso. “And any person will not be in the Tent of Meeting when he comes to cause atonement in the Sanctuary until his going out.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 16:17). When the Kohen Gadol goes into the Holy of Holies to perform the incense service he must be completely alone.

Why Public Acclaim Can Harm Self-Respect

This coming Sabbath we read a double Parshah, Acharei Mos and Kedoshim.  The first one tells about the confessional service (from which we get the expression “scapegoat”) and Yom Kippur, the prohibition against eating blood, forbidden relationships, and the holiness of the Land of Israel.

Kedoshim tells about a range of mitzvahs including gifts to the poor, honest business dealings, loving your fellow as yourself, forbidden mixtures, and the penalties for engaging in forbidden relationships.

Imagine: the Kohen Gadol was the one out of hundreds of thousands of Israelites chosen to perform the atonement service on the holiest day of the year. Undoubtedly people treated him with the utmost respect, perhaps even awe.

Despite being the personification of spirituality and discipline, the Torah tells him no one will be in the Tent of Meeting when he enters it. In order to properly perform the service and connect with G-d on this holiest of days he had to put aside all thoughts of honor. G-d calls on him to act as if no other people exist. By visualizing himself completely alone, he is free from seeking the approval of others.

This is a very important lesson for us. So often we get wrapped up in what other people think of us. Such endless worry or excessive self-consciousness can become debilitating. If, even for a short time, we can imagine a world in which other people do not exist we can free ourselves from this anxiety and enhance our self-respect.

Further, such concerns are illusory. In reality, people do not think about us nearly as often as we think they do. To the extent they are thinking about us it actually makes no real difference in our lives. For people who habitually judge us, in most cases, we cannot get their approval even if we tried.

Better to follow the Torah’s advice. When we feel unduly concerned about our public image, imagine a world devoid of other people and press forward with our spiritual growth, indeed all facets of our lives, free from the need to be honored. In this way, we build a firm foundation for our self-respect.

Question – What dangers do you see in being completely dissociated from public opinion?

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Why Humility is an Important Accomplishment

Vayomer Moshe el-Aharon, kerav el-hamizbeach . . . “And Moses said to Aaron, draw near to the Altar.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 9:7). Moses has just explained to Aaron how to bring the offerings. Why does he have to repeat his instructions?Why Humility is an Important Accomplishment

This coming Sabbath we read Parshas Shemini.  It tells of the offerings Aaron will bring; how his sons Nadav and Avihu bring an offering G-d has not requested and are killed as a result; the prohibition against the Kohanim drinking wine; which mammals, fish, birds, and creeping things the Israelites may eat; and what to do if a vessel becomes tamei/spiritually contaminated.

Through the whole ordeal with Pharaoh Moses never had to tell Aaron what to do a second time. Citing Toras Kohanim, Rashi notes that Aaron was too afraid and embarrassed to approach the Altar. Being a man of such tremendous humility he could not reconcile to being chosen as the High Priest. Moses tells his brother this very feeling of unworthiness is what qualifies him for the job.

As we develop humility, one thing we notice is how little we know about so many subjects. Nonetheless, opportunities for accomplishment and to lead arise. Despite feeling unqualified we must embrace these occasions since we serve other people and by taking ourselves out of our comfort zone grow our own spirits too.

Our humility will make us better teachers and leaders since we will be open to advice, input, ideas, and criticism from those with whom we engage, enriching everyone’s experience.

Question – What holds you back from worthwhile accomplishments?

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