"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

If I Am Not For Myself Then Who Will Be For Me?

July 12, 2011

in Jewish Jems,Judaism:,Talmud - Oral Torah,Tanach (Old Testament),The Soul,The Torah

 

L’zecher nishamos Rav Yochanon Motel ben Rav Ephraim and Moras Esther Leah bas Rav Yehudah Yoseph B”H

The Salant Center 

 

Mussar – A Healing Spirit for the Heart and Soul

 

PIRKEI AVOS/THE ETHICS OF OUR FATHERS

“If I am not for myself then who will be for me; and if I am only for myself then what am I; and if not now – then when.”

The rules of spirituality operate in the reverse fashion of the physical laws. For instance, the acquisition of wealth is determined by divine decree. Therefore, a person should take no credit for his own financial success. In this light, the passage reads, I do not take credit for my financial achievements – for what am I.”

Whereas spiritual attainment is dependent upon our initiative and efforts. Therefore, concerning spiritual advancement we are taught, “If I am not for myself then who will be for me,” Meaning I am responsible to generate Torah study and good deeds. If I do not actively pursue my spiritual goals, I will remain unfulfilled. The more I motivate and strengthen myself to achieve spirituality, the more personal growth will blossom forth.

In addition, it is impossible to accrue more financial assets than HaShem has decreed for us. Conversely, regarding our spiritual endeavors, the sages taught, “One who wants to purify himself is granted divine assistance.” Meaning, HaShem will help him ascend spiritual levels that transcend his natural limitations. What’s more, he will be rewarded as if he achieved these plateaus — even though HaShem was the true cause of his success. Accordingly, it is important for him to keep a sense of humility, i.e., if I am for myself – then what am I.

Finally, regarding earthly tasks, one can do tomorrow what he neglected to do today. Whereas, concerning spiritual pursuits the text states: if not now – when?Meaning, if he neglects his spiritual duties today, he cannot make them up tomorrow.

In conclusion, there are three basic spiritual laws: (1) Spiritual growth is powered by self-initiative; (2) A person must maintain a sense of humility by remembering that HaShem blessed him with success; (3) A mitzvah lost cannot be made up.

May we hold fast to these rules, so that we will blossom and succeed in all of our spiritual endeavors.

TODAY: Take the initiative – and strengthen yourself – to perform a Mitzvah.

 

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