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Weekly Chizuk


Look At Yourself in the Third Person

As we mentioned in Parshas Tetzaveh, the fact that Klal Yisrael built the Mishkan "just like Hashem commanded Moshe" is repeated no less than 18 times. Rav Elchanan Wasserman used to take special note of this. What is the difference between the previous generations and the latter generations? Today, whenever a person speaks about himself, people cannot fathom by any stretch of their imagination that he isn't expressing his ego. However, it used to be different. In the Torah when a person spoke about himself, no one ever speculated that he was referring to himself. Look at all the verses in Parshas Pekudei where Moshe Rabbeinu spoke about himself in third person: "And Moshe performed…" "Just like Hashem commanded Moshe." Why doesn't the possuk write, "Just as Hashem commanded him?" Isn't it obvious that Hashem gave all these commands to Moshe? It's as if there is some other Jew called Moshe, and Hashem used him to carry out His missions. And Moshe Rabbeinu was just standing on the side observing, as if it had nothing to do with him at all.

This also was Rav Elchanan's habit regarding himself. In spite of his enormous stature in Torah and leadership, he never took personal credit for anything. Once, Rav Elchanan came to visit the Mashgiach of his yeshiva, Rav Yisrael Yaakov Lubchansky, who was critically ill and in a very dangerous state. The rebbitzen complained that he doesn't allow any of the boys in the yeshiva to take care of him.

Rav Elchanan responded thusly, "Regarding himself, he can say he doesn't want. But for the Mashgiach of the Yeshiva certainly the yeshiva boys have to serve him in order to get him well. Even the Mashgiach himself has to want that the Mashgiach should be healthy, because the Yeshiva needs the Mashgiach." He brought proof from Moshe Rabbeinu in Parshas Pekudei. (Ohr Elchanan p. 117)

R' Zusha and the Rav

In the town of Anipoli there were two Rabbis, Rebbe Zusha the Chassid, and the town Rav, a Misnagged. R' Zusha was always happy despite the fact that he had nothing but troubles, poverty, and ill health. The Rav on the other hand, despite his honorable position in the community, was always unhappy, depressed, bitter and angry. He could not bear others, or even himself.

One night, bitter and frustrated he went to ask R' Zusha for help. He sneaked out of his house at an hour when he would not be seen and secretly made his way to the hovel which R' Zusha called home. When he arrived, the lamps were still burning, so he knocked hesitantly. Almost immediately R' Zusha appeared at the door with a smile and an invitation to enter.

"How is it that you are so happy and content and I am always angry and cursing everybody?" asked the bewildered Rav.

"Let me give you an example," offered R' Zusha. "Take the wedding of R' Moshe's daughter. When Reb Moshe, the local philanthropist, made a wedding for his daughter recently, he dispatched a messenger to personally invite the special citizens of Anipoli. When the messenger came to your house, you demanded to see the guest list. You saw that you were 14th on the list."

'"Chutzpah!' you shrieked, and decided that you would attend, but come late. When you arrived, all the guests were already sitting at the tables and eating the festive meal. When you arrived, there were no empty places to be found.

"Soon, Reb Moshe the philanthropist saw you looking for a place to sit. 'Rabbi,' he called out, 'where have you been?' He brought you to the head table, but there were no more empty places. They brought you a chair, but you sat behind somebody else. You were furious, looking for somebody to lash out at, but nobody was really paying any attention to you. The waiter did not even see you. By the time the host noticed that you were not eating, all the food was gone.

"R' Moshe went into the kitchen to find something, but there was nothing befitting the Rav of Anipoli. Everything had already been picked through. By this time you were cursing the host, the waiters, the guests, and even the bride and groom themselves. When it came time for the bentching (Grace after Meals) and the Sheva Brachos (seven blessings said after the festive meals in the presence of the bride and groom), you had been all but forgotten. You went home broken, angry, and bitter, cursing the Master of the World Himself.

"When the messenger came to the house of R' Zusha (he always referred to himself in the third person), Zusha was taken aback. What a kind gesture! Reb Moshe is inviting Zusha to the wedding of his daughter?! What has Zusha ever done to deserve an invitation to their wedding?!

"So Zusha went two hours early to the wedding. Zusha asked what he could do to help set up. Zusha officiated at the ceremony. Zusha ate a full meal. Zusha was honored with bentching and Zusha recited the Sheva Brachos."

"You see", Rebbe Zusha continued his explanation to the Rav of Anipoli, "you wanted everything, but you ended up with nothing. Zusha didn't ask for anything, but he got it all!"

Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
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Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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