|Examine Your Life
Question 15: What is good pride? What is bad pride?
Rabbi Schwartz :
says Hashem, Let the wise man not pride himself in his wisdom, or the
powerful man in his strength, or the rich man in his riches; but in
this let a person take pride - in understanding and knowing Me…"*
rich man, especially the "self-made" billionaire, may take pride in his
achievement - his initiative, persistence, vision, genius and hard
work. However, all these qualities, are heavenly gifts, prizes he
received, with his strong desire to become rich. Thus our sages teach,
"In the way that a person wants to go, so he is lead."** As such, pride
in having received such success is not justified. It is a false pride,
a bad pride. Ditto, ditto for the wise or powerful person.***
when we realize that true wealth, wisdom and power come only from
drawing closer to Hashem, we live our lives from a different
perspective, a new angle.
Easier said than done! We all have a
problem. Naturally, almost against our will, we dream of luxuries and
lavish lifestyles. Even more so, we desire the fame and prestige of the
academic all-stars and the barons of business.
On the other
hand, however, cultivating the wish to draw closer to Hashem, to know
His ways and adopt them, is far from natural. Only with constant
application, with long, deep thought, do we appreciate the magnificence
and beauty of the upper, spiritual worlds. The degree, to which we
reach such knowledge, such sensitivity, is the degree to which we
deserve to take pride in ourselves - in this world and the next. This
is good pride.
* Yirmiyahu 9:22, 23
** Makkos 10b
Where however, a person uses his wisdom, wealth and power to benefit
others, this will fall under the category of "knowing Hashem", and
justifies his self-pride.
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