Wednesday, July 27, 2016

531 - Beha'aloscha

In this week's parsha Moshe requests of his father-in-law, Chovov, that he join Bnei Yisrael on their journey to the Promised Land. Rashi (Bamidbar 10:29) explains that Chovov was just another name of Yisro, and he adds that Yisro had numerous names.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) elaborates on Rashi's comment. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos (4:17) states, "There are three crowns - the crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna and the crown of kingship - but the crown of a good name surpasses them all." A good name is acquired by way of one's actions. More specifically, when one takes a potential quality and transforms it into concrete actions, he defines his character and thereby creates a reputation and good name for himself. Yisro maximized his numerous qualities and created many names for himself. For example, he cherished the Torah and was therefore called Chovov. He gave good advice to Moshe thereby adding a section to the Torah, and therefore he was named Yisro.

Conversely, it is possible that a person will have no name whatsoever. The Chida quotes Rav Chaim Vital as saying that after a person passes away he is met by three angels. One of them asks the deceased person for his name. If in response he swears that he does not know his name he is duly punished. How could it be that a person forgets his own name? A name defines one's essence and it is quite possible that a person was not in touch with his true essence over the course of his entire life. While he certainly fulfilled many mitzvos and performed many actions, nevertheless, he might not have developed and actualized his personal potential, and thus lost the opportunity of acquiring a name for himself.

Rav Yerucham Levovitz would say that every person is born with an underlying positive middah. One does not need to work on perfecting this middah since it was given to him without a flaw. He must merely be careful that this perfect quality does not get eroded by negative behavior. Moreover, this middah is the key to his self perfection. By taking advantage of his specific middah he has the ability to rectify the rest of his middos which need refinement.
Rav Wolbe adds that the opposite is also true. Each person was created with a single underlying negativemiddah that needs much rectification. It stands to reason that a person's underlying positive middah is directly aligned to combat his underlying negative middah. One who is not in touch with himself is simply clueless as to what Hashem wants from him and how he is supposed to get there.
We all have the opportunity to make a name for ourselves. While society in general looks outward in their attempt to create a name for themselves, a Jew's avodahis to focus inward in order to achieve this goal. Get to know yourself and you will be on your way to acquiring "the crown of a good name" which surpasses all else.

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