Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On Pride

I really love the counting of mitzvot. The number 613 always fascinated me and I love the efforts of the rishonim to compile lists of the mitzvot. What I am truly fascinated by are the anomalous mitzvot, those that were only counted by one authority but were not included by the others. (disclaimer: not including something in the 613 is not at all indicative of halacha, the number 613 is of an academic nature and is not used to determine halacha, see the Ramban's commentary on the Rambam's sefer hamitzvot for more on this topic)

The Semag writes that when he was compiling his list of the mitzvot, he was reminded in a dream not to forget to count the mitzvah of not exhibiting pride (לא להתגאות). The problem is that we do not find such a command in the entire Torah. The semag, however, does learn this mitzva from a pasuk: "השמר לך פן תשכח את ה' אלוקיך", "guard yourself, less you forget Hashem your G-d" and that through pride, one forgets as it says "ורם לבבך ושכחת" "And your heart [became] prideful and you forgot".

What incredible mussar! Pride is not just a foundational flaw in the middot that leads to other forms of bad behavior. Pride is the displacing of Hashem's place in your life with your self. Once we understand this, then we can get some insight into the nature of true humility. If pride is the displacement of Hashem in your life, humility is the understanding of Hashem's presence in all areas of life.