Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #14
“The life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; the years of Sarah’s life” (Genesis 23:1).
There’s a lot of humility in this week’s parshah. Avraham Avinu (our Patriarch) twice humbles himself to the locals (Genesis 23: 7, 12); Eliezer bows to God (ibid. 24:26,52); Rivkah Imeinu (our Matriarch) descends from her perch when meeting her groom (v. 64); and Sarah Imeinu and Avraham Avinu are laid to rest (ibid. 23:19, 25:9). (Burial is the ultimate in being humbled. We’ll explain some other time—maybe.) The holy Zohar (1:122b) relates our introductory verse to humility: One who downplays his importance in this world, will be heralded in the next. One who makes himself a big-shot in this world will be insignificant in the next.
Generally speaking, people take an inordinate amount of pride in regard to having (at least) one of the following: wealth and possessions; wisdom and knowledge; strength and authority. Even a person who feels he has plenty of time, is over-prideful. Rebbe Nachman teaches that one has to humble himself (or herself, as the case may be) to four “others”: those greater, equal or less than himself. The fourth “other” is oneself. Sometimes one has to humble himself by considering that he may not even be on the spiritual level he has reached.
What is the purpose of all this humility? First, the less ego one has, the more Torah he can learn (see Avot 4:1). Secondly, a healthy ego, one not overgrown, allows one’s Torah knowledge—the letters of Torah he has spoken—to shine. This is visible in one’s private and public behavior, but also takes place at the soul-level: his luminous soul causes other souls to be illuminated.* With that, souls of converts are created and souls already Jewish are influenced to begin shining on their own.
All this brings God’s glory to the fore, paving the way for peace in the world. May God, in His compassion, protect us from being haughty and help each of us to realize the genuine kosher humility we need. Amen.
© Copyright 2010 Breslov Research Institute
*In Shaar HaGilgulim (#17), the Arizal teaches that at one’s demise and in the Future world, a person will know the entire Torah according to the explanation that matches his soul-root. Furthermore, depending upon one’s study and behavior during the day, so one is taught at night, according to his soul-root. See also Chayei Moharan (Tzaddik) #342, where Rebbe Nachman says that each person has a place where his learning and his Torah begin. Accordingly, the Torah unfolds uniquely for each of us.