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Hayom Yom: Tackling Life's Tasks - 20 Elul

Hayom Yom: Tackling Life's Tasks - 20 Elul

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דעֶר וואָס אִיז נִידעֶרִיג אוּן גְראָבּ העֶרט נִיט אָן דִי אֵייגעֶנעֶ גְראָבּקַייט אוּן נִידעֶרִיקַייט.

A person who is spiritually low and coarse is insensitive to his own coarseness and lowness.1

Delving Deeply

The Rebbe Rayatz made this statement while commenting on our daily request: “In Your abounding mercies, have compassion on us.”2 We tend to be unaware of our own pitiful situation, since we neither appreciate the true spiritual potential of our soul, nor the depth of its descent when we are immersed in worldly vanities. G‑d, by contrast, knows both the Divine potential of the soul and the lowness of its descent. We therefore ask Him to have compassion on us according to His understanding.

By the same token, the above teaching can also guide us in our own process of spiritual self-refinement. Our Sages write:3 “A person may observe all blemishes except his own.” In its plain meaning, this rule speaks of those who are qualified to identify the blemishes that are symptoms of tzaraas, an affliction resembling leprosy. In such a case, even an expert may not judge the status of his own affliction, but must turn to another. However, this rule can also be applied to blemishes of character. We have trouble identifying our own faults: our self-love can blind us to our flaws.

For that reason, the Rebbeim have always advised us to associate with friends who are dedicated to spiritual growth.4 In that manner, we surround ourselves with people who value the areas in which we seek to improve,5 and who can encourage and direct us with care and love, so that our defense mechanisms do not react negatively.

Footnotes
1.
Sefer HaMaamarim 5700 [1940], p. 132.
2.
From the first of the two blessings that precede the Shema in the Morning Service (Siddur, p. 39).
3.
Nega’im 2:5.
4.
See, for example, the maamar of the Rebbe Rashab entitled Heichaltzu 5559 [1899], chs. 10 and 11. For English translation, see On Ahavas Yisrael: Heichaltzu (Kehot, N.Y., 5756/1996), pp. 19-23.
5.
For, as Rambam observes, “In his attitudes and actions, a man by nature tends to follow his friends and aquaintances, and conducts himself according to the customs of his townsmen” (Hilchos Deos 6:1); cf. Sotah 7a.
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