Parshas Korach 5783
Everyone, even the small cheder child, knows about the gentleman in our sedrah named Korach and what happened to him. It’s a long story with a lot of important details but the end of the story is that he went lost. The last thing we heard from Korach is when he was falling into that big crevice that Hashem opened in the desert floor. Korach opened his big mouth to rail against Moshe and so Hashem opened up the big mouth of the earth to swallow him and he fell into Gehenom. Finished. That was the end of Korach.
But it’s not that simple. Korach, you have to know, wasn’t a nobody; very far from it. Korach was a great man. Remember, he had participated in all the great experiences of the Jewish nation. In Mitzrayim he had seen the ten makkos with his own eyes. He saw how Hakadosh Baruch Hu came and redeemed us and gave us liberty. Korach marched out of Mitzrayim together with the rest of the nation singing together the song of redemption.
Korach ate mann every day. He saw the Yam Suf split and he walked on dry land amidst the waters. He saw how the Egyptians were drowned in the Yam Suf. He stood at Mattan Torah and heard the Voice of Hashem. And together with the rest of the nation, he proclaimed “Naaseh v’nishma.” He was mekabel the Torah along with everyone else.
And so was there any question of even the smallest doubt of emunah in the mind of Korach? Absolutely not. Nobody in the generations of today has as much emunah as Korach had. It’s common sense. A person who sees the ananei kavod every day, who eats lechem min hashomayim for his meals, won’t have any blemish in his emunah. He was more convinced than we’ll ever be.
So what happened to Korach? What caused the downfall of such a great man, a gadol mammash? What happened to such a great personality as Korach that he went lost forever?
And the answer to that question is our subject for tonight. You have to know that it was nothing but kavod. As great as Korach was and despite all of the knowledge that Korach had, when he was faced by the test of seeing somebody in his own shevet of Levi elevated to the office of kehunah while he himself was overlooked, it ruined him. That jealousy, the desire for glory, became his downfall.
Now before we get down to the business of the night, the business of kavod, we’ll first study another great person who had a similar downfall. In order to emphasize what the desire for kavod could do to a person we’ll look at what happened to another great man. I’m talking about Doeg Ha’adomi.
Doeg at Nov
Who was Doeg? Doeg Ha’adomi was the אַבִּיר הָרֹעִים אֲשֶׁר לְשָׁאוּל – he was the chief of the leaders in Shaul Hamelech’s administration. Now, Shaul himself was a big tzaddik and also a big ben Torah, and so when he appointed a man as the abir haroim, the mightiest of the leaders, you can be sure that the man was one of the gedolei hador, one of the very greatest in the generation.
The Navi gives us a little picture of who Doeg was. You remember when Dovid was fleeing from Shaul and he came to Nov, the city of the kohanim, to request provisions for himself? At that time it happened to be that Doeg was also there. What was he doing there? It’s important to remember why he was there.
Doeg didn’t go to Nov in order to take a vacation. He went to Nov not to rest – he went to Nov to be in solitude with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It says (Shmuel I 21:8) וְשָׁם דּוֹאֵג נֶעֱצַר לִפְנֵי ה’ – Doeg was there spending time in solitude in the presence of Hashem. He had come there to be in hisbodedus, in solitude with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. I never did that. Did you? Did you ever travel somewhere to be in solitude with Hakadosh Baruch Hu? But that’s what Doeg did – that’s the kind of man he was. Not only was he a great Torah leader but he was an oveid Hashem.
And so we should expect that Doeg, the abir ha’roim, should be one of the chief luminaries in the firmament of our history. A man of that caliber who was distinguished even in that great generation should be one of our most famous masters.
But if we consult the Mishnah in Mesichta Sanhedrin, we’re told a different story. We find out that Doeg ein lo chelek l’olam haba, that he lost his share in the World to Come! Doeg was ruined forever.
Now, such a thing is remarkable to hear. How could such a thing happen to a great man like Doeg? Was it because he yielded to lusts? Was it because he was ambitious for money? Was it because he was overcome by the temptation of physical lures? No! He was above all that. He had passed all those tests already.
The answer is that besides for all of his good qualities – he learned, he studied; he had zerizus, alacrity, and he desired all good things – but he also had a desire for glory. It was this desire beating in the soul of Doeg that toppled him from the greatest heights to the bottom-most pit and caused him to lose his share in the World to Come.
Glory and Envy
What happened? Plain and simple: he was envious of Dovid. Because when Dovid appeared on the scene, he stole the show from Doeg. Doeg had been basking in the king’s admiration. He was a very great man, an accomplished man, talented and gifted, and greatly admired by Shaul. And then Dovid showed up. Dovid was even more talented. וְעַל דָּבָר זֶה נִתְקַנֵּא דּוֹאֵג הָאֲדוֹמִי בְּדָוִד – And because of that Doeg became jealous of Dovid. When it came to the bitter test of desiring kavod Doeg lost his footing; he tripped and fell and he was ruined.
It was there in the Mishkan where Doeg was in solitude lifnei Hashem, the place where he was striving to achieve the real glory – the glory of finding favor in the Eyes of Hashem – in that exact place he made the misstep that brought his downfall and made him lose his chelek l’olam haba. When he saw that Dovid arrived there and Achimelech the kohen gadol was giving Dovid bread and also a weapon, a sword, it burned in him. “Here’s the little upstart, the one who’s stealing all of my glory, and Achimelech is giving him sustenance and encouragement?!” And the possuk says that he went back to Shaul and tattled on Achimelech and Dovid; and that’s when he lost his chelek in Olam Haba.
Plenty of Good Excuses
Now it’s not as simple as we think. When we learn the stories of Tanach, it’s all black and white, and we think we understand them. No, no; they’re couched in simple language, but it’s not simple at all. Doeg had noble thoughts, he said, “Shaul appointed me as his right-hand man and therefore my first responsibility is towards the king. I must be loyal to him. Now this fellow Dovid, he’s becoming too popular and there’s a very big possibility that he might try to unseat Shaul Hamelech.” Do you know how you unseat a king? Not with elections. Not with ballot stuffing like they do today. You unseat a king with the sword.
And so in order to save the king’s life, Doeg, his loyal servant, decided to warn him that Dovid has allies who are aiding him in his rebellion. The loyal Doeg decided it was a mitzvah, a duty on him – he must go to the king and let him know who his enemies are. Only that Hakadosh Baruch Hu looked into Doeg’s heart, and He saw that Doeg had done it because he was envious of Dovid; because he felt his glory beginning to slip away.
Now had you confronted Doeg with this accusation – let’s say Doeg would walk in here tonight; a dignified man with a long beard, a big talmid chacham. And you would tell him “Doeg what you are doing is because of your desire for kavod, so Doeg would tell you arguments to disprove them. He’d give you ken (ק”ן) ta’amim, 150 reasons why it’s his duty to inform the king.
And not just any reasons; they’d be such good arguments that if you would print them, it would be a masterful sefer of pilpul. It would be much better than Ketzos Hachoshen or Nesivos. Doeg could learn better than the Ketzos Hachoshen. And when he decided to tell Shaul, to inform against Dovid and against Achimelech, he could justify himself by every kind of legalistic argument of the Torah. But the verdict of the Torah was that it was done because of glory.
Succeeding in Torah
Many great men in our history have tripped up just because of that. We once spoke here at length about Yeravam ben Nevat. Yeravam was a very great man. We’re told (Sanhedrin 102a) that תּוֹרָתוֹ לֹא הָיָה בּוֹ שׁוּם דֹּפִי, his learning didn’t have any blemish. Now that’s a statement to make. It means he was a brilliant man with a clear mind. He was a genius, one of the greatest talmidei chachomim of his generation.
Now you cannot become a Torah sage like that unless you’re dedicated to Hashem. If you’re dedicated to good times – let’s say instead of spending your Saturday nights learning Torah you get in your car and go to Queens to visit your relatives, so you won’t get very far. A man who wants to succeed in learning must make up his mind that he’s not going to visit. He just cannot do it! Like the Rambam says (Talmud Torah 3:13) לֹא יְאַבֵּד אַחַת מִלֵּילוֹתָיו – you shouldn’t waste one of your evenings.
I’m talking now to all you young men who want to succeed. That’s why when you’re going to meet your intended for the second time – the first time is too hard to tell her; so wait till the second time – you should let her know that yours is a life devoted to Torah, and you just won’t be able to run away to the in-laws all the time. A telephone call is good enough.
You can’t afford to give away your life! If you want to succeed in learning, Shabbos morning before prayers must be utilized. You can’t lie in bed until 8 o’clock. You have to get up 7 o’clock Shabbos morning and stay in shul the long Friday nights and long summer Shabbos afternoons. And Saturday nights and sometimes all day Sunday and every evening too. Come home from work, daven ma’ariv, eat supper, take a little nap, put on the alarm clock and get busy learning. If you want to accomplish something in this world, you cannot yield to good times.
The Great Ordeal
And so you can be sure that Yeravam did all of that and more. When he became a great man, it was at the cost of great sacrifice! And yet our Sages tell us (Sanhedrin ibid.) that when he was confronted by the ordeal of kavod – the question of mi berosh, who is going to be ahead, he or ben Yishai, the king from the House of Dovid – so when he heard that the House of Dovid must be first so he said “then I don’t want.”
And because he wouldn’t yield the dignity that belonged to the House of Dovid, he slipped and he broke away from the land of Yehudah, from the Beis Hamikdash and we know what happened to him. Another great man ruined.
Now, we have a right to investigate this phenomenon of great people going lost because of the desire for kavod. I say ‘right’ – actually it’s an obligation. That’s why these stories of Korach, Doeg, and Yeravam are told to us – so that we should study them and learn lessons.
And so, rabbosai, if we’re going to talk now about the subject of kavod I want to first clear the decks for action. Let’s not kid ourselves; what does a person want most in this world? Of course, there seems to be no end of desires. וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר שָׁאֲלוּ עֵינַי – whatever my eyes requested of me (Koheles 2:10). We desire everything! And yet, when we analyze the striving of Mankind, when we study it al pi Torah and also according to our own investigations, we’re going to come to the conclusion that what a person wants most of all is kavod, honor.
Today people call it ‘recognition.’ That’s an English word that we use to camouflage kavod – we say “I’m not looking for kavod. I just want recognition.” Okay, call it what you like but I’m telling you what it is. The craving of every human soul, more than anything else, is for glory. And even though you’re a tzaddik and you learn that “the desire for glory removes a person from this world” (Avos 4:21) – that’s what happened to Korach after all – but we cannot go away from the fact of human nature.
Glory Makes the World Go Round
Don’t we see people give up many things for the sake of glory? Wannabe artists go to Paris and live in garrets — they starve for years and years and paint away, one painting after the other, in the hope that someday one painting will be taken out and displayed and finally they’ll make it. Right now, this very minute, there are writers sitting in basements, cold and hungry, and they’re sending in their articles to magazines, one after the other, in the hope that maybe someday one of them will be recognized.
And what about those who rush into the thick of the fray in battle and give their lives for glory in the hope that someday maybe in a little public square somewhere in a town in the middle of America there might be a little monument to them, a plaque or something? People who pass by never look at it but still that craving for glory was enough for him to give up life.
Why do people try to become wealthy? Why are there so many wealthy Jews boruch Hashem? They don’t need that money. The answer is they want to be important, and importance means kavod. Of course, they want to give tzedakah too – they’re building Torah institutions and building up the Am Yisroel and we’re grateful for that – but the core is kavod; that’s the craving of a person.
We desire with all our hearts to become ‘somebody’, we desire with all our hearts. We don’t want to be a nobody. We cry out in the innermost chambers of our soul, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, help me that I should become something, my life should not be wasted.’ And this outcry for glory is the most fundamental cry of the human soul; we crave glory more than anything else.
And so, if you want to be a man who does chessed, you should keep that in mind always. Your wife might want money from you, sometimes a lot of money, but more than anything she wants kavod. And so if you want to be a good husband you should honor her. And don’t be stingy; be lavish with your words of praise. When she makes supper, speak at length about her prowess, her ability. אוֹקִירוּ לִנְשַׁיְכוּ – Honor your wives because that’s the greatest benefit you could do to her (Bava Metzia 59a).
Not only wives. It’s the greatest tovah you can give anyone. And so if you see a yeshivah man learning or a boy davening nicely, encourage him. Honor him. Honor your friends in the synagogue. Honor the people who work for you – it’s like giving them a raise; sometimes you can save money by giving your employees kavod. Honor your acquaintances in the office and your neighbors. You’ll become an ish chessed, a person of chessed that way, because you’re giving people what they want most – ‘recognition.’
Now, the question is: where does this desire come from? Even little babies are born with a desire for glory. It’s not that they learned it from other people. A baby stands in his crib and when he jumps up and down and you applaud him so he does it again with redoubled energy because he sees that he has a grandstand. Even babies want kavod. It’s inborn.
Now animals, not. If you see sometimes a fancy bird sporting its plumage, don’t suspect him of wanting kavod. He’s looking for a shidduch, that’s all. It’s a mating instinct and nothing else. Sometimes it’s for the purpose of driving off competitors but it’s never because of a desire for glory. It’s something peculiar to Mankind, an instinct that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has given only to us.
Now we understand that nothing in the human character is an accident. Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t bestow such fundamental urges in man without a purpose. Just like if you open up the hood of an automobile and you see certain things that you don’t understand, you wouldn’t think it’s an accident. You know intuitively that the makers of that car wouldn’t waste a single nut or a bolt. Everything has a purpose. And so you can be sure that Hakadosh Baruch Hu when He manufactured a man, He put into him every single emotion for a purpose.
And so if we see that this is how Hakadosh Baruch Hu made Mankind, with the instinct for glory banging away in the human heart so there must be an important reason for it. And if it’s banging away so powerfully it must be extremely important. The only question is, for what? What’s the purpose of that instinct? Just to be a test, a nisayon that can destroy even great men? No, that’s not enough of a reason.
The Secret of Glory
So we’ll listen to the statement of Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon in his sefer Emunos V’Deos (Sec. 10). Now, pay attention to his words – they should stand before our eyes at all times because he’s saying something here that the success of our lives depend on. The Gaon writes there as follows. He says that the instinct of kavod was implanted in man’s nature for Olam Haba.
Now we’ll understand what Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon is telling us on two levels; one step at a time. The Gaon is saying number one that Hakadosh Baruch Hu implanted in people a desire to excel in order that we should aspire to excel in all the achievements that will bring us to Olam Haba.
That’s why boys compete with each other in learning. This one wants to be a bigger lamdan, to be recognized for his Torah learning. Everybody aspires to become famous for his Torah knowledge. And Hakadosh Baruch Hu likes that because it means you’re using that instinct for what it was created.
Cause for Glory
And when women are willing to have more and more children – even if it’s difficult; it’s not always easy with so many children in the house – but a woman who does it because it’s a bigger kavod for her to have more children, that’s a woman who’s making use of her instinctive desire for kavod.
And let’s say her husband is trying to get a good name, a shem tov, so that people should honor him. He keeps his mouth closed and smiles at everyone because he wants people to talk about him behind his back: “That Jack, he’s a good man. He’s polite to everybody and he’s so honest.” Very good! Better yet, he says, “I won’t fight with my wife. I’ll make her think I’m a good fellow. She’ll think I’m a good-natured man and she’ll honor me. I want my wife’s relatives to speak highly of me. I want everybody to say, ‘This man is a polite man. He’s friendly to everybody.’” So you become a more perfect person, a better servant of Hashem, because you want to be honored.
And if you’ll take that instinct and give more tzedakah because of it, that’s wonderful! It’s an honor for a person when they announce, “So-and-so gave so much money for good causes.” You want to be known as a big baal tzedakah! On the contrary, go ahead and when an appeal is made announce your pledge in a loud voice because other people will give too when they hear your name announced. They’ll also want to compete with you. They’re thinking about their own kavod. And Hashem is Smiling at that. He’s satisfied that His children are using their instinct for the purpose it was created, for His service.
Stop With the Error
Now, I know that people get snagged when they hear these words; they’re snagged by what’s stated in Avos (1:3): אַל תִּהְיוּ כַּעֲבָדִים הַמְּשַׁמְּשִׁין אֶת הָרַב עַל מְנָת לְקַבֵּל פְּרָס – you shouldn’t do things for any ulterior motive; only because of love of Hashem. And so Rabbosai, once and for all, let’s get rid of this error. You want to remain a nobody? So keep on saying this ma’amar over and over again, and you’ll never budge.
I remember when Rav Avraham Grodzinski zichrono l’vrachah, the Slabodka menahel, once spoke. And he said how is it that the Sages said לְעוֹלָם יַעֲסֹק אָדָם בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְמִצְווֹת שֶׁלֹּא לִשְׁמָהּ, a man should always study Torah and do mitzvos even for ulterior motives. Do mitzvos, learn Torah, become great in mussar, in character, for honor! Isn’t that a queer thing? You should learn Torah in order to be known as a scholar? To do mitzvos in order that people should have a good opinion of you? “How is it possible,” Rav Avraham asked, “to give the world such license, to be so insincere? It’s an astonishing thing to hear from our Sages.”
And he explained that it’s certainly astonishing that they said such a thing. But that’s because they saw a greater evil, and that is not to learn and not to do mitzvos, to not accomplish. Nobody would climb the mountain of avodas Hashem!
Use Those Horses
We have to climb this mountain, but we wouldn’t do it on our own. Suppose your car died on the road and now you have to push it uphill. Now, I never tried it but I imagine it’s a difficult job. An automobile weighs maybe a thousand pounds and you’re a measly 180 pounds. It’s a very hard job.
Now suppose there’s a team of horses passing you by where your car is stuck and they’re heading uphill. So if you can hitch your automobile to that wagon that the horses are pulling, do that. And if the name of these four horses are kavod, kavod, kavod and more kavod, so be it. You have to get to the top. And if by hitching on to the wagon, you’ll get to the top, very good. You succeeded!
And therefore it’s of the utmost importance to utilize kavod. How do you utilize it? You must foster, you must encourage the feeling of kavod. Don’t say “I don’t want kavod.” Don’t trample it underfoot and stifle it. On the contrary, you should learn how to desire kavod. You should blow on that fire and continue blowing until it becomes a great conflagration. And that fire will continue to supply energy and keep the motors running within you.
Sparking Off the Substitute
Now all that is very good. To look for kavod in this world as a spark plug to jumpstart your service of Hashem, that’s what He wants from you. But Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon intended much more than that. There’s more to that instinct because sof kol sof whatever kavod is achieved in this world, it’s only a substitute kavod, an imaginary kavod.
Let me explain. When you get kavod in this world, it’s really a ridiculous thing. A soldier rushes into battle because he’s hoping that he’ll gain eternal fame. But what does eternal fame mean? They’ll cast his form in bronze on a bronze horse. The horse is not even galloping. It’s standing still in a public square. People who pass by don’t look at it anymore; they’re so tired of seeing it they don’t even think about it.
You know sometimes you have a statue like that in your hometown and somebody tells you, “You know, I saw in a book for tourists that there’s a famous statue of Paul Revere in your hometown, right around the corner from you.”
“Oh, that?” you tell him. “I didn’t know it was Paul Revere.” It was a man on a horse, that’s all you knew. You never even stopped to bother to ask who it is.
Losing the Sparkle
The kavod of this world after a while turns into nothing. Even if it’s more than a horse statue. Let’s say you’re in Madison Square Garden and 100,000 people are applauding you. Imagine you made some wonderful discovery and you’re standing now up there and 100,000 people are applauding you. It’s as meaningless as could be! An hour later it’s all over. They go home and forget about you.
And even if they’ll think about you when they go home – imagine that 100,000 people are thinking about you and applauding you all the time, day and night, still it’s nothing at all. I always give this mashal: Imagine that on this floor there are billions of germs. There are. There are billions of germs on the floor here. Now imagine they’re applauding you right now. What does it mean? Nothing at all.
And so, along comes Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon and he tells us that there is only one place where the kavod is real; where the kavod is forever. You know where? In Olam Haba. That’s what the Gaon says, that Olam Haba is kavod. Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon reveals to us here that the secret happiness in the World to Come is the happiness of getting kavod. That’s the secret of Olam Haba.
Glory of Forever
Now I understand that most people don’t think about Olam Haba at all. What’s there to think about? Olam Hazeh, that’s what they like to think about, but Olam Haba, it’s an esoteric, strange kind of subject.
But we must think about it because that’s where we’re going to be eventually. Sooner or later even the most successful person has to say farewell to this world and go to his eternal home, to the real world.
And therefore anybody who has even a little bit of rationality must look forward to what comes after death because that’s our consolation. That’s what Dovid said: בְּרֹב שַׂרְעַפַּי בְּקִרְבִּי – when I have many thoughts that disturb my mind in my heart, תַּנְחוּמֶיךָ יְשַׁעַשְׁעוּ נַפְשִׁי – Your consolations, Hashem, are the happiness of my soul. What are the consolations? The World to Come. That’s the consolation that will always buoy up a man’s hopes and make him feel that life is worth living despite everything. No matter what happens, the World to Come is still waiting for you. And therefore it pays to know the nature of your future in the afterlife, to know what is the nature of the joy in the World to Come.
The Great One
הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵין בּוֹ לֹא אֲכִילָה וְלֹא שְׁתִיָּה, you can’t look forward to breakfast or lunch or supper. They don’t serve that in the World to Come. So what’s left? Fancy cars and big houses? No, not there. No vacations to Florida or California either. There’s something that’s infinitely more delightful, infinitely more pleasurable. You know what it is? It’s glory. The World to Come is a place of kavod. And why is that the most delightful, the most pleasurable experience that can be created? Because of the One giving the kavod. Hakadosh Baruch Hu!
So we’ll picture now, Hashem is sitting there on the grandstand and around Him are all the Nevi’im; Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon and all the others. Also the Tannaim and Amoraim are there; the Rishonim and Acharonim and all the great people of the generations down to today. And they’re all sitting and applauding you.
I’m just saying that in order to make it more palpable, so that you should feel it, but Hashem is the audience that matters! There’s only One audience that we care should applaud us and that is Hakadosh Baruch Hu. The greatest happiness for the neshamah will be when Hakadosh Baruch Hu will Smile on you lovingly – that smile of approval is an eternal joy. There’s no happiness, there’s no reward greater than having kavod from Hashem.
Too Much to Bear
It will be such a kavod, such a happiness that when you’re alive you couldn’t tolerate it. You’d die of happiness. That’s why the Gemara says that Hashem gives tzaddikim the koach to withstand that happiness. It’s so great a human being can’t take it and therefore Hashem gives tzaddikim koach to tolerate that happiness. Otherwise, it’s too much for a person to be able to endure, such a great joy.
You remember the story? A man received a telegram that he won the sweepstakes and he dropped dead from happiness. His nerves couldn’t take it. In the Next World the happiness is a million times more; Hakadosh Baruch Hu will give us endless sensations, new sensations which we’re entirely unaware of in this world. Hakadosh Baruch Hu invents new pathways of joy, new pathways of feeling and emotions, new senses, to appreciate that kavod.
And that, Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon says, is why Hashem created in us the instinct of kavod. Not to waste on this world. Looking for kavod in this world is like what I told you once, the mashal of the Chofetz Chaim. He said kavod is like kugel. Kugel you make for Shabbos. What if a person sits down Friday afternoon and eats up the kugel? If he eats the kugel on Friday afternoon, he’s misusing it. It’s not for Friday afternoon.
Kavod is not for erev Shabbos, for Olam Hazeh. That’s what Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon is teaching us, that the instinct of kavod is made for the purpose of preparing ourselves in this world for Olam Haba. It’s an instinct, an instinctive desire that beats in our heart always, to let us know how great is the happiness that awaits us. Understand that. Hashem planted this instinct inside of us because someday that desire is going to be gratified to the fullest.
And anybody who did more than his fellow Jew will surely rejoice more. Like it says (Yeshayah 4:5) כִּי עַל כָּל כָּבוֹד חֻפָּה – for every kind of glory there’s a chuppah. It teaches that each tzaddik has a chuppah according to his kavod in the World to Come (Bava Basra 75a).
Now some people say, “Who cares? I believe in Olam Haba and I’m sure it’s a place of great happiness. And so if I can get in there, I don’t care what kind of seat I have; even with a backseat, I’ll be happy. As long as I’m in Olam Haba who cares for glory?”
But these people are ignoring the purpose of their desire for kavod and they’re thereby deceiving themselves. Because in this world it bothers them very much. When they come to a wedding and they see that everyone else is at a better table, better food and better music, while he’s seated near the door it bothers him. If he didn’t get an aliyah that he wanted, it gnaws at him; sometimes he becomes a bitter enemy of the gabbai and the president and the rabbi too.
Don’t Kid Yourself
“And therefore,” says the Mesillas Yesharim (ch. 4), “don’t deceive yourself. You must know beforehand that the human nature that you have now is a parallel to what’s going to be in the World to Come. Human feelings are not superficial. They’re eternal – they go with us in the afterlife and that means that the desire for glory doesn’t end at the grave.”
And when you’re going to discover one day that this little yiddeleh, a quiet neighbor, the one who sat in the back of the shul, or a simple woman down the block, is way on top and you’re way at the bottom, you’re going to regret that. Yes, a woman sometimes is so virtuous, so full of good behavior in her lifetime that she’ll be sitting in a very high seat way ahead of a talmid chochom. And that’s because she strove for that kavod, the kavod of Hashem, all her life. She was careful to direct her instinct in the right direction.
And so the Mesillas Yesharim urges us to utilize this desire for kavod! Don’t reject it and say, “No, I don’t care for kavod.” That’s what that instinct is for; so that you should get busy thinking about gaining kavod from Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
There’s so much a person can do if he’s focused on the glory of Olam Haba. This world is full of thousands of opportunities. But we must utilize them! And the spark plug, the dynamo for success is that instinct for kavod that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has placed in all of us. And therefore if you want to become somebody in the World to Come – that’s where the kavod pays – get busy now with all things that will make you very important in the World to Come.
Because that’s a man’s purpose in this world! We’re here to get kavod! That’s the most important commodity for a person who knows the purpose of our being in this world. The more you will labor to make yourself more and more holy, more and more perfect, the more and more you’re going to gain the favor of Hashem Who will Smile on you and cause you the greatest happiness forever and ever.
Have A Wonderful Shabbos
Seeking True Glory
If Hashem created me with this instinct of desiring glory and recognition, I’m going to practice steering it in the right direction. Every day this week I will bli neder spend one minute thinking about the ultimate glory that I can acquire while I’m in this world, the kavod of Hashem smiling on me in Olam Haba. And I’ll rededicate my life, my goals and dreams in this world, to that most important function of acquiring the glory of Olam Haba.
Tapes: S-9 – Seeking Glory | 53 -Midos – The Supreme Test | 463 – Downfall of a Great Man | 729 – Craving for Glory | 963 – Functions of the Instinct for Glory | E-121 – The Great Opponent | (Q&A – E-236) | E-244 – Learning Yiras Hashem
“Malky, come! We’re going to be late!”
Malky hurried into the living room, schlepping a giant box. Her sister Esty was standing there frantically double-checking a list in her hands.
“Oh, there you are,” said Esty, relieved. “We don’t have a second to waste!”
“But the carnival doesn’t start for two hours,” said Malky.
“Yes, but we have to get there, and then we have to set up, and then we need to get in the right mood.”
“The right mood?” asked Malky, quizzically.
“Yes, the chessed mood,” Esty explained.
Malky had no idea what Esty was talking about. She didn’t think you had to be in a special mood to do chessed. But instead of arguing, she lifted her big box into the bubby cart and the girls headed out the door.
A few minutes later the girls arrived at their school.
“Wow,” breathed Malky. “It looks gorgeous!”
The Beis Yaakov auditorium had been completely transformed. Balloons and streamers hung everywhere. The walls were plastered with colorful signs, and there was one enormous sparkling sign in the middle of the room, which read:
Beis Yaakov of Hill Valley Presents:
The First Annual Asiris Ha’eifah Chessed Carnival
Helping needy families be mekayeim Mitzvas Challah k’din
A few weeks earlier, the eighth grade girls had discovered that some families could not afford to make a large enough batch of challah each week to make a brocha when being mafrish challah. So they decided to hold a chessed carnival to raise money so that every family in town could afford to do this mitzvah properly.
“Oh look, here’s our booth!” exclaimed Esty.
Malky looked and saw a sign which read “Esty and Malky’s Ice Cream Shoppe”.
“Cute,” she said, as she brought over the box and started unloading the equipment.
“Okay, we have an hour and fifty minutes until the carnival starts,” Esty said, consulting her list. “The ice cream is going to be delivered in forty-five minutes. That should be just enough time for the equipment to get cold enough if we plug it in now.”
The girls hurriedly set up their stand and prepared everything they needed to sell their ice cream.
“Esty, Malky! Hi!”
Esty and Malky looked up to see a group of their friends approaching.
“Hi Channie, hi Rochel!” Malky said. “Where is your booth?”
“It’s all the way on the other side,” said Channie.
“Oh. My. Kneidlach.” Rochel breathed. “Your booth looks a-MAZING! Did you design it yourself?”
“Actually, Esty came up with the idea. But I helped.” Malky answered.
The girls looked over at Esty, who was standing next to the soft-serve ice cream machine, her eyes closed and her hands slowly moving up and down in front of her face.
“Esty!” gushed Channie. “You are SO talented! How did you learn to do this???”
Esty’s eyes remained closed, and appeared not to hear her friend.
“Is everything okay with Esty?” asked Rochel.
“Yeah, I think so,” said Malky. She’s just getting into the ‘chessed mood’, whatever that means.”
Just then, a little girl approached with her mother.
“Hi!” she said. “My name is Tzila Rut and I want to make a donation.”
Tzila Rut slapped a bill on the counter.
“Can I have an ice cream cone, please?” she asked.
Esty’s eyes popped open and she and Malky gaped at the hundred dollar bill that Tzila Rut had just donated.
“Of course!” exclaimed Malky, who quickly began loading scoop after scoop into a humongous ice cream cone.
“Can I also have almonds on top?” Tzila Rut asked.
“Sure!” smiled Malky who sprinkled a few almonds on top of the cone.
“Malky,” Esty said. “You know there are almonds in this week’s Parshah.”
“Oh that’s right – after the story with Korach! Almonds grew on Aharon Hakohein’s staff.”
“Yes, but you know what the Torah says? It says ‘וַיִגָּמֵל שְׁקֵדִים’ – the word ‘vayigamel’ has the same shoresh as ‘gomeil’, like ‘gemilas chassodim’. And I read that Rav Avigdor Miller says that it is also related to the word ‘גּוֹמֵר’ – to complete. And that’s because when Hashem does chessed, Hashem doesn’t just do a little bit – he goes ALL the way and does HUGE amounts of chessed!”
“Well, in that case,” said Malky, looking at Tzila Rut. “Why don’t I give you some extra almonds?” as she sprinkled even more almonds on top.
“Malky, wait.” said Esty before Malky could hand Tzila Rut her ice cream.
Esty picked up the container of almond flakes and dumped the entire thing on top of the ice cream cone.
“There you go, Tzila Rut!” Esty smiled. “You did a big chessed with your donation, and we would like to do the same for you.”
Malky handed Tzila Rut her ice cream and started walking away.
“Malky, where are you going?” asked Esty.
“I’m running to the store for a minute. I think we’re going to need a LOT more almonds!”
Have A Wonderful Shabbos!
Takeaway: Hashem doesn’t just do Chessed, He Completes Chessed, ensuring that we have WHATEVER we might possibly need.