Examine Your Life
Question  15:  What is good pride? What is bad pride?

   Rabbi Schwartz :
"So 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…"*

A 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.***

However, 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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