Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Former Rosh Kollel in Detroit
Our Parasha opens with blessings and then moves on to curses. There is a gradual progression in sins that lead to the curses. According to the Torat Cohanim, there are seven transgressions, each bringing on the next.
“These are: not studying, not performing Mitzvot, scorn for others who perform Mitzvot, disdain for the Sages, preventing others from performing Mitzvot, denying the Divine origin of Mitzvot and finally, denying the existence of God.”
(see:Rashi on VaYikra 26:15, based on Torat Cohanim)
Every Jew, naturally, knows and feels that he must observe Mitzvot. When he doesn’t do so, he is not satisfied with his own lack of observance, but also scorns others for their performance of Mitzvot. Those Mitzva observant Jews in his midst anger him, because they are constant reminders of his failings.
From this position of scorn for others, one begins to feel disdain for the Sages. Among the Nations of the World, the lifestyle of their priests is of no consequence for the average individual. These priests cut themselves off from the natural cycle of life and there is no reason to have disdain for them. Their lifestyles are irrelevant to the average adherent of their religion. This is not true for Judaism. In Am Yisrael, the Rav, the Sage who is constantly involved in a life of Torah and Mitzvot, is an integral part of our life cycle. These models of Torah and Mitzvot are a living symbol and reminder to those not engaged in living a life of holiness. Therefore, one with a tainted conscious, aware of his failure to live a life of truth, cannot be ambivalent when faced with a Rav dedicated to Mitzvot. He slowly begins to hate this Sage. This hatred serves as a justification for his own weaknesses.
This dynamic is relevant in many areas of our lives. We often observe the behavior of others, and for some reason are angered by it. If we are honest with ourselves, we will find that often the very thing we desire for ourselves is what angers us in others. Our inability to obtain or achieve that goal translates into scorn for the person who has the very thing we want for ourselves.
If we focus on this dynamic, we can turn all of the things that anger us into a vehicle for advancement. Rather than expressing anger and aggression, look inward and use the same energy to improve those things that we would like to change.
Yehi Ratzon – May we know how to utilize whatever Hashem places in our path for advancement.