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People who have not developed their character are doomed to suffer. I know someone who was upset with his boss because of the way he treated him. Finally, he decided to "teach him a lesson," and so he quit. The employer had no trouble at all finding someone else to take his place, but the employee was left without a job. Unemployed and unable to support his family, the fellow stayed at home and sulked bitterly, but he felt that he had "gotten his revenge" against the man who had mistreated him. Had he been able to swallow his pride and look aside a bit, he could have enjoyed a much better quality of life. But his bad middos (characteristics) were in control of his feelings rather than the opposite.

Some people take themselves much too seriously. They are arrogant and haughty, and imagine themselves to be special and superior to others, even though they have no reason to think that way. Usually, others suffer because of their elitist attitude, but very often it is they themselves who suffer because of their terrible middos.

In this week's parashah it says, "There shall be a great outcry in the entire land of Egypt, such as there has never been and such as there shall never be again. But against all the Children of Israel, no dog shall whet its tongue, against neither man nor beast; so that you shall know that Hashem will have differentiated between Egypt and Israel" (Shemos 11:6-7).

Later in the Torah it says, "People of holiness shall you be to Me; you shall not eat flesh of an animal that was torn in the field; to the dog shall you throw it" (Ibid. 22:30). Rashi brings the teachings of the Sages that because the dogs did not bark at the Jews in Egypt therefore they were rewarded that the carcasses of non-kosher animals be thrown to them.

A Chassid once came before the Satmarer Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum ztvk"l, and complained that he cannot support his family. The Rebbe, who had trained his own Chassidim to give charity with an open hand, advised the fellow to go door-to-door in the Rebbe's community of Williamsburg, and surely he would find his salvation there. However, the man refused to comply, claiming that it was beneath his honor to beg for help.

The Rebbe asked him why he thought that he was better than anyone else who willingly asked for help when in need. The man replied that he is a rebbeshe einikel, a grandson of a rebbe, and, being of special lineage, he could not act the way others may.

The Rebbe, who was known to be extremely sharp and witty, always coming up with pointed replies on the spur of the moment, asked his solicitor if he could, perhaps, tell him where in the Torah we find that it is a privilege to be a grandson of someone important. The man thought and thought but could not find a source.

Finally, the Rebbe told him, "I'll tell you where. The Torah required us to give our treife animals to the dogs. Why specifically to them? Because they are special, since their grandfathers didn't growl. But only by dogs," concluded the Rebbe, "do we find it a yichus (pedigree) to be someone's grandson!"

Let us work on our middos and then we will be truly happy, in this world and the World-to-Come.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel