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More Is Expected of a Great PersonAdapted from the Chofetz on the Torah (cited in my sefer Chizuk!)
And if he be poor, and cannot afford (an expensive sacrificial animal) then he shall take… two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering. (Vayikra 14:21-22) There are people who measure their spiritual stature by comparing themselves to their neighbors. If they match up to everyone else, then they are satisfied. They disregard the truly elevated level they could attain if only they would utilize their full energy.
Comparison to others is not necessarily accurate. A rich person who can afford an expensive animal does not fulfill his requirement with the Korban of a poor man. Only the poor man of limited means can bring two pigeons or two doves. Whoever can afford more has to bring an animal, not a bird.
The same is true regarding people in their fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos. More perfection is expected of a greater individual. Talmidei chachomim are required to fulfill the mitzvos with greater precision and care in accordance with their wisdom and spiritual height. A talmid chachom who performs mitzvos just like everyone else and then comforts himself with the thought that his intellect is greater than the next fellow's is like the rich man who brings the poor man's Korban.
The "Maasai Lamelech" relates that one member of the Chofetz Chaim's household once complained that the children were forced to wear old ragged clothing even on Yom Tov, while the neighbor's kids across the street got new clothing.
The Chofetz Chaim answered, "We are very fortunate that Hashem has helped us and we are Bnei Torah raising our children to Torah. For this, we have to thank and praise Hashem Yisborach. Our neighbor, however, wasn't so fortunate. He himself is not a Ben Torah and Hashem didn't grace him with bright children. It is only fair, then, that he was given the ability to dress his children in new clothing for Yom Tov."
Similarly the Chofetz Chaim used to explain the possuk, "Hashem is close to those who have broken hearts" (Tehillim 34). The poor man praises Hakadosh Baruch Hu several times a day even if He bestows upon him only a meager parnossa. The rich man, on the other hand, usually attributes his wealth to his shrewdness and expertise and forgets that it was Hashem Who imparted these talents to him.
The Chofetz Chaim used to tell of a porter who made a living carrying heavy weights on his shoulders. Every morning he would wake up early and go to the market to wait for Hashem to bring him his parnossa for the day. Sometimes he would wait until the late afternoon in the cold, the rain or the snow. Finally he had the opportunity to carry a sack of flour for a few pennies which was just enough to buy half a loaf of bread. Then he would go home full of simcha to feed his family breakfast and praise Hashem for His great mercy and goodness.
A short time later he would be back at his place in the market waiting to make enough money to buy lunch and supper. In spite of the fact that his life was hanging on a shoestring, he would praise Hashem many times a day for providing him bread literally from Heaven.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network