15 Adar B 5779 / Friday, March 22, 2019 | Torah Reading: Tzav
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Arrogant? Who, Me?    

Arrogant? Who, Me?

You have to be negative and judgmental to be arrogant. You have to look for the fault in everything and everyone just to validate yourself…


What is arrogance?


I know it when someone else is arrogant to me, boy does it set me off. That can mean only one thing–I am an arrogant person.


Or I once was one. Living by the water these past few years has knocked the cockiness out of me.


We just moved inland, and now we are paying a mortgage. That means we own an asset. Somehow this little arrogance demon has resurfaced. After four amazing years of happily being chopped down to size and being happy to celebrate the things everyone else had and did better than I had and did, I thought this dark-side trait was flushed out.


Now that it is coming back, it's a lot easier to identify.


Arrogance is the feeling that nothing anyone does is of any value at all. It requires sadness. You have to be negative and judgmental to be arrogant. You have to look for the fault in everything and everyone just to validate yourself, or to keep you on that imaginary perch you stand on which is always 3 inches above everyone standing next to you.


You have to see everything around you as completely pointless, and not worth the effort.


If you are born arrogant, to fix yourself you literally have to build your own house from the dirt. You must develop an ability to be sensitive to other people's accomplishments. You have to make it a point to congratulate others on what they want, what they have done, and what they believe.


Unless you shock yourself into decency, you will drift through life seeing no point to it.


Things begin to change when you accept the lovely gift people like Rav Arush and Rav Brody give us, the gift of gratitude. You stop taking for granted the little things, like a flower, or a scented plant. You realize that your child's smile is the greatest gift from G-d. You start to see how hard other people work for those they love, and how hard they work to help you and those you love.


You ask other people about their abilities and accomplishments. You begin to boast about them and celebrate them as if they are your own. You let others inspire you. Everybody becomes a rose; just the sight and smell of them brightens your day.


As you see the goodness in everyone, you learn to stop judging others. Passing judgment on others, even if it is something really small like the color of their kippa or if they are wearing one, gives you the opening to conclude that they are less than you and aren't worthy of your attention.


You never actually say this to yourself, but you feel it. It is an unspoken sequence that you replay with people and never think about it.


The moment you start to fight this demon, things get better. Acknowledging what Hashem does for us strengthens the "gratitude" muscle. If we get strong enough to push a couch, we are certainly strong enough to move a big table. Gratitude extends to other people. Every smile we give out brightens someone's day, including our own. Every compliment we make adds light to this world. Every thank you we communicate sincerely is an act of Divine service.


For whatever reason, my arrogance gene has reactivated. It feels like pouring salt on a fruit salad. Instead of an amazing variety of different types of sweetness, all I taste is yuck.


Arrogance denies us everything sweet in this world. It ignores all the effort people put into improving their existence and negates any opportunity to learn from them to make our existence better.


That must be why Hashem hates the arrogant. They take all the bright colors in His beautiful world and reduce them to greyscale.

The powerful are susceptible to arrogance. The rich are susceptible to arrogance. People like me who worked, prayed, and pushed ourselves to improve so we could pursue a dream, and then experience Hashem's blessing by making our dream come true, can make the huge mistake of expressing gratitude to Hashem by becoming arrogant.


Arrogance is like a cigarette addiction; it can happen to any of us–and it ends in tragedy.


The most precious opportunity G-d gives each and every one of us is a lifetime to perform mitzvot. There is no greater value than this, or any existence than to serve His Will. If you are arrogant, you cannot see the value until your opportunity is over, and you look back and cry over what you had in the palm of your hands and glibly threw into the trash bin.


The best way to humble arrogance is to realize that it is nothing more than a complete waste of life.



* * *

The greatest joy I get in writing is the chance to share my happiness with you so you can feel it too. My name is David Ben Horin and this is my treasure trove.

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