Thursday, May 14, 2009

Are you really better than the next guy?

Reb Hillel of Paritch was a tremendous Torah scholar who “crossed the floor” and became a Chabad Chossid. Over the years, he became a dedicated student of the second and third of the Chabad Rebbes, but never managed to meet the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad.

It’s not that he hadn’t tried, but Providence ensured that each time he arrived in a town that the Alter Rebbe was visiting, he just missed the Tzadik by a day. Eventually, Reb Hillel researched the Rebbe’s movements ahead in advance and arrived in a small shtetl ahead of the Rebbe’s brief visit there.

To make sure he would not miss the chance to meet the Rebbe, he smuggled himself into the Rebbe’s room, hid under the bed and waited...

Excited by the prospect of meeting this great Torah personality, Reb Hillel had prepared some intricate questions on the obscure topic of “erchin” (the appraisal of people’s value to donate to the Temple) to pose to the Alter Rebbe.

As the Rebbe walked into the room, before Reb Hillel could move, he announced: “If a young man has a question regarding appraising people, he should first concentrate on appraising himself!”

Reb Hillel fainted; the Rebbe’s message had hit its mark. By the time he came to, the Rebbe had left and Reb Hillel never got to meet him.

A man once asked the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe why he allocated so much of his time to simple Jews, when he could surely have better invested his time with scholars. The fellow happened to be a diamond merchant, so the Rebbe asked to see his stones.

As he looked through the collection, the Rebbe remarked that he didn’t see why a particular stone was so expensive, it seemed rather ordinary. The dealer patiently explained that, as an expert, he could see the value of a stone that an inexperienced person could not see.

“I,” said the Rebbe, “am an expert in people, I can see a value that you cannot...”

If we are unable to see that preciousness in the next Jew, it is ourselves we need to assess.


Marc said...

Very interesting. As a people I believe we are always too quick to judge others. I believe everyone has the ability to achieve greatness, be it spiritually or otherwise. Too often, we are to quick to label.

Great blog... wish you would write more often.

Anonymous said...

it's oh so easy to always point out other's inefficiencies and "faults"... i guess it's up to us when such happens to look within and ask ourselves if we're so perfect before pointing outwards, and use those "faults" as "opportunities" to remind ourselves that there's still work to be done on improving ourselves (where we *CAN* actually make a change).. i hope i can remember this and apply myself ;o)
by the way Rabbi, are there any tools in Judaism that I can use to help me with such? Thanks again for another great post!

Rabbi Ari Shishler said...

Hi Marc

I know, I would love to write more, I just need to find time (management).

Hi Anonymous

Great point!

There are plenty of resources within Judaism- some that are easy to access and others that require study, focus and discipline.

I would recommend visiting for a start and see if you can get to study some Tanya.