Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Sin of Pride

Mark Matheny
April, 7 2015

Rabbi David of Lelov fasted and afflicted himself for his sins. For six years he fasted, and then for another six. Yet he was still not satisfied that he had achieved perfect atonement, but he did not know what else to do.So he traveled to Lizhensk to ask the holy Elimelekh what he still lacked.

He arrived just before the Sabbath. That evening he went before the Rabbi with all the other disciples and reached out his hand for the rabbi's handshake. To his dismay, Elimelekh shook everyone's hand but his. "Surely he mistakes me for someone else," he thought.

When the prayers were over, he approached the rabbi again, but again the rabbi snubbed him.

All that night he wept. In the morning he decided to leave Lizhensk as soon as the Sabbath had ended. But when the third meal came, the time when Elimelekh spoke words of Torah, he could not resist peeking in at the window of the rabbi's house and listening in.

"Some people think," he heard the rabbi say, "that by fasting six years and then another six years, they achieve perfection of the soul. Then they come to me so that I can supply the little they still lack. What they fail to see is that all their sacrifices and devotion only serve the idol of their own pride, not heaven. If they want to serve Ha Shem truly, they must turn away from the path they are now on and serve Ha Shem with a truthful heart."

When Rabbi David heard Elimelekh's words, his heart trembled within his breast and he began to cry. At the conclusion of havdalah, he opened the door to Elimelekh's house and stood there, shaking with fear.

Elimelekh ran up to him , embraced him and cried, "Welcome! A blessing upon your head!"

When he saw this, Eleazar, Elimelekh's son, burst out, " Father, isn't this the same man whom you snubbed twice because you couldn't even stand the sight of him?"

"Oh no!", replied Elimelekh with a broad smile. "That was somebody completely different. Don't you see that this is our own dear Rabbi David?"    - Hasidic Tale

"When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom." 
-Proverbs 11:2

We as believers in Ha Shem often feel as if we must somehow cleanse and perfect ourselves through our own efforts. In the story above, the rabbi devoted twelve years to fasting and afflicting himself, yet he still felt that there was something lacking within himself. It was only after being snubbed by Elimelekh, that he saw his pride keeping himself from truly serving Ha Shem.

We can sometimes be like the Rabbi David, thinking that we can perform acts of devotion, whether it be fasting, afflicting ourselves, or even by attending service and helping with charities, etc. We then go to "Elimelekh" (which means - My G-d is King) and ask Him to supply the little that is still lacking..... 

This is indeed a boastful and proud way of seeing oneself, as if anything we can do would in anyway please Ha Shem, or perfect one's own being. 

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 
-Isaiah 64:6
It is when we can come to the conclusion that it is Ha Shem who perfects our way, through His instruction, that we can be humble enough to ask Him to supply all that is lacking within us.
"But my El shall supply all your need according to His riches in Kavode (glory) by Mashiakh Yahshua." 
-Phillipians 4:19
It's not that we should neglect fasting, or assembling together, or even giving to charity etc., but we must not think that any of these things by our own merit are what makes us whole, or perfects us. Shle'akh Sha'ul taught :
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise." 
-I Corinthians 3:18
 If we are to be perfect before Ha Shem, then we must look to what is perfect that Ha Shem has given to us.

The law of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHWH is sure, making wise the simple. -Psalm 19:7
Humility is something we must cultivate in our walk with The Holy One. Our Mashiakh is the perfect example:
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Mashiakh Yahshua, who, though he was in the form of El, did not count equality with El a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." 
-Phillipians 2:5-7
We must empty ourselves of the ways and desires of this world, and seek to fill ourselves with the things of Ha Shem. His Torah is what He desires for us. He has given instruction to us that we might be filled with joy and long life upon the earth, as well as in the Olawm Ha Bah (the world to come).

In Aikido, the first lesson I was taught as a student, was the lesson of "Ukemi", -"to fall". We had to learn first to take a fall. It was a very "humbling" experience to say the least.But in repeated falls, it built and toughened my body.

Relying on Ha Shem, and following His instruction (Torah) is the way to a great reward.

The law of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHWH is sure, making wise the simple.The statutes of YHWH are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of YHWH is pure, enlightening the eyes.The fear of YHWH is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of YHWH are true and righteous altogether.More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." 
-Psalm 19
Pride will stifle our walk with Ha Shem and bring many sorrows along the way:

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.   
- Isaiah 13:11

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." 
-I John 2:16 
May the Holy One Bless you and Keep you, In Mashiakh Yahshua,
Mark Matheny

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