Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Beha’alotecha

In this week’s D’var Torah for Beha’alotecha, the Chief Rabbi explains how one can achieve greatness whilst still remaining humble.

Can one be truly humble and also be the greatest of them all?

That is exactly what happened in the life and times of Moshe Rabbeinu. Our Parasha, of Beha’alotecha, describes him as being, “Anav Mikol Adam – He was more humble than any other person.” This is referring to the past, present and the future.

At the end of the Torah, accolades are given to Moshe. He is described as being the greatest of all the prophets and he had the privilege of speaking “Panim el Panim – Face to face” with The Almighty.

In the Mishna, Masechet Sanhedrin our Rabbis taught that when Adam was created, the entire world existed just for him. And since each and every one of us are as unique as Adam was, we should all declare “Bishvilee Nivrah Ha’olam – This world was created for me.”

This statement, however, sounds quite arrogant. Rather, the Mishna is encouraging us to appreciate the potential each and every one of us has and that our ability and our talent comes from Hashem.

It should not be a case of “Kochi Ve’otzem Yadi, Asah Li et Hachayil Hazeh – That it is my power, my might and my ability that has brought this all about. But rather, when one is paid a compliment, one should respond “Baruch Hashem – It is not me, it is thanks to Hashem, Who has enabled me to achieve all of these goals.”

The great rabbinic master of the nineteenth century, Reb Bunim of Peshischa, would always carry with him two pieces of paper, one in each pocket. On one piece was written the words “Bishvilee Nivrah Ha’olam – This world was created for me.” On the other piece of paper were the words of Avraham to Hashem, “Anochi Ve’Afar Va’Efer – I am just dust and ashes.” He would always be mindful of these two messages. First of all to recognise his own, incredible potential and at the same time to know that he was just dust and ashes.

That was the secret to the success of Moshe Rabbeinu. He was indeed more humble than any other person but he knew he had talents, he knew he had ability. However, when he achieved much, indeed more than all others, and he ascribed that success to Hashem.

Similarly, let each and every one of us recognise the talents and potential we possess, in order to make the maximum impact on the world around us. However, at the same time we should recognise, it is not thanks to our greatness, it is all Baruch Hashem, thanks to the gifts, the Almighty has given us.

Shabbat Shalom

 


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