Advice from the Rav: Overcoming arrogance

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Advice on overcoming arrogance

Rav Berland’s advice on: Arrogance

Continuing our translation of the book ‘Etzot HaNachal’, a compendium of practical advice culled from Rav Eliezer Berland’s teachings and classes. This week, we’re up to the subject of arrogance.

  • A person walks around with a sense that he’s always smarter than the other guy, and that he’s more of a tzaddik than the other person.

And this is why he doesn’t merit, this is why he falls, this is why he fails.[1]

  • The whole reason why a person has failures and setbacks in his avodat Hashem (spiritual endeavors), e.g., he can’t wake up in the mornings –

    All of this is due to arrogance.

It’s because a person always walks around with the feeling that he’s the biggest tzaddik.[2] He always has that feeling, whether he knows it or not, whether he’s cognizant of it, or not, he’s always walking around with that feeling.[3]

  • When a person thinks that he’s a somebody, he chases the Shechina (Divine presence) away.

The work of a person is to know that he’s nothing, that he’s zero. Adam HaRishon’s sin       was that he thought he was somebody.

The moment a person knows that he’s nothing, he’s zero, then he needs to bring a            korban toda (thanks offering), and to just sing songs of thanks to Hashem, that He even     created him, that Hashem even agreed to create him.[4]

  • It’s written in Kochavey Or that a person needs to rely on the fact that Hashem created him.

He doesn’t need to rely on being the biggest gaon (Torah genius), or the biggest tzaddik,     or the wisest person, or that he’s Moshe Rabbenu. Rather, he just needs to rely on the         fact that God created him.[5]

  • “All of this means nothing to me.” (Quoting Haman, from Megillat Esther).

Each person thinks that he is the biggest Tzaddik, and that whoever isn’t listen to his opinion should be put to death. ‘I am the most holy! I am the most pure! I’m doing the best job of guarding my eyes!’ And then, he goes around every second of the day with these thoughts that ‘everyone owes me! And why are they depriving me?! Why am I always the last one to get served?!’

  • A person has to know that there is a klipa (a dark-side force) called: “All of this means nothing to me.”

This causes a person to feel that he’s the cleverest and the most brainy, and that everyone should be serving him, and that everyone should be his servant. And when people don’t give him exactly what he wants, then he goes crazy – what’s this?!? Why aren’t they listening to me?!?[6]

Straight to the dark side

  • The second that a person starts to think, ‘behold, now I’m a Breslover, Baruch Hashem! I’m part of Shuvu Banim, I travelled to Uman, and I get up for the vatikin (dawn) minyan, and I got up for chatzot (halachic midnight)….”

If that person has just a single thought that now, ‘I’m better than those other people who are sleeping 8 or 10 hours a night in their beds’ – all of his avoda, his spiritual work, will go straight to the Sitra Achra (the dark side).[7]

[1] Commentary on Likutey Moharan, Lesson 130.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Commentary on Likutey Moharan Lesson 219.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Commentary on Likutey Moharan Lesson 241.

[7] Ibid.

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