Minute #478: Reality Check

The pursuit of honor is one of the worst negative traits. A person who participates in this chase desires respect from others and might even want them to fear him or her. What often evades even the most intelligent human being is the illusory nature of honor.

A person can easily be fooled into thinking that the little he has is enough to outdo others.

A little boy may perceive himself as tall in his classroom, but feel tiny when standing in a huge hall surrounded by adults who are all much taller than he.

A well-to-do person from a small town attends a charity function in a major metropolitan area. The donations of others far exceed his capacity to give. Suddenly he realizes that his material wealth is barely considered average in comparison.

A man who is considered learned in his small congregation visits a major yeshivah. There he understands how much more he must learn to even come close to being a true talmid chacham.

The prophet Yeshayah saw a vision of the angels serving Hashem in the Heavenly throne room. He said: “Oy li ki nidmayti — Woe is to me for I shall die” (5:6) — after seeing what I am not worthy to view. The Maggid from Dubno (Kochav MiYaakov, p. 64) translates “nidmayti” as “I imagined.” The prophet was bemoaning the fact that he thought he was so much better than he actually was, and the vision of angels shattered his misconception.

One must avoid the tragic mistake of believing that what’s illusory is real. Such a misconception can make a person feel uninterested in working towards spiritual growth. A person must constantly grow in Torah learning, performance of mitzvot and yirat shamayim. Regular reality checks are key. “Where am I holding?” is a productive question that yields positive results when the answer isn’t clouded by illusion.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Before traveling, a Jew should donate to charity, as it says, “Tzedek will precede him and he will set his footsteps upon the way.” It is also beneficial to learn Torah before departing. (Kaf Hachayim Sofer, O.H., 11:27)