It’s better to fail than to become proud
Continuing the series of translations of Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s words from the You will succeed! book. Click HERE to buy the book in Hebrew.
The Ba’al Shem Tov says that pride (ga-avah) is the worst thing in the world.
Tzadikim say that they are more afraid of the mitzvot than they are of the aveirot (sins).
If a person commits a sin then he’s broken, completely.
He’s a vessel that’s been shattered into tiny pieces. We’re not talking about the foolish ones that go and do sins intentionally. Rather, we’re talking of those who aren’t able to control themselves. They can’t overcome their yetzer. So, they’re broken, completely.
But, a person who thinks he’s a Tzadik?
There’s no greater wicked person than this. There’s no greater idol worship than this.
The Kotzker Rebbe explains on that which chazal said that the early generations served idols. They knew that it was forbidden to serve idols. It was just that it was impossible to stop it. They knew they were committing a forbidden action. The Toldot Aharon said this was, “and it will be that your life will be hanging before you”, which the Zohar says was a blessing, because it meant that they had reached a level where they saw everything they did as being ‘against Hashem’.
Sometimes Hashem sees that if a person prays, learns and becomes attached to Hashem, he’ll feel that he’s the ‘tzadik of the generation’.
So, He has no choice. Hashem turns him into someone who serves idols. He knows its forbidden, it’s just that Hashem gave him such confusion, such insanity, that he runs after idols. And he says, ‘what am I doing? What am I doing?’ He feels so broken hearted that he comes to be against Hashem, and ‘it was that your life will be hanging before you’. And then he comes to live.
It was in this merit that the generation of Achav were victorious in war.
They served idols, but they were broken by this.
They rose above the generations of David and Shaul, who weren’t [always] successful in war, because everyone had ga’avah.
If they would have been broken hearted, Hashem would have let them conquer right up to the Euphrates!