6 Kislev 5778 / Friday, November 24, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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The Other Side of Arrogance    

The Other Side of Arrogance

Arrogance is a concept that's misconstrued; people relate arrogance with blatant conceit. They don't associate arrogance with someone who is withdrawn and depressed...


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody

According to the principles of emuna, lack of success is a catalyst to stimulate prayer, teshuva, spiritual growth, and enhanced closeness to Hashem. When we remember the basics of emuna – that everything is from Hashem and that everything Hashem does is for our ultimate welfare – we can always be happy.
Two main types of people suffer from self-persecution:
First are the stubborn heretics who fight Hashem in their minds despite the fact that without Hashem in their lives, they're miserable. These people destroy themselves.
The second type is the depressed heretics. Those in this less belligerent and more docile group have no sense of self-worth. They see themselves as unsuccessful losers. They don't believe that they are capable of anything; the slightest challenges in life overwhelm them. They sorely lack self-confidence and suffer from fits of depression. Emuna would solve their problems by giving them a true source of assistance. Once they were to realize that everything comes from Hashem, and once they'd replace their melancholy and complaining with prayer, their lives would turn completely around for the better.
When life doesn't go according to plan, there is one of two alternatives: either one can get closer to Hashem, or go farther away from Hashem. That's basically one's only choice. If one uses a setback or difficulty to get close to Hashem, then ultimately, the setback or difficulty becomes a success in retrospect. As such, one can be happy about setbacks and everything else Hashem does, for it's all for the best.
The arrogance of depression is that the depressed individual doesn't see that his lack of success is a message from Hashem. The message reminds that individual that he cannot succeed without Hashem, every step of the way. Within every setback is an intrinsic message from Hashem: “I miss you, beloved son or daughter; it's time for you to call Me.”
Failure is like a Chinese fortune cookie: Within each one is a message from Hashem that says, “Come close to Me, my child.”
Stubborn people who think they don't need Hashem live in a bubble of fantasy that they are perfect; when life shows them otherwise, they're bitterly depressed. They have great difficulty reconciling themselves to the fact that not everything in their life is the way they want it. Such people either persecute themselves or violently blame others for their troubles. In reality, their suffering stems from their refusal or failure to understand that Hashem runs the world, and only Hashem decides whether anyone will succeed or fail.
Arrogance is a concept that people misconstrue. People relate arrogance with blatant bragging and conceit. They don't associate arrogance with someone who is withdrawn and depressed since such a person probably doesn't think much of himself.
That’s a mistake. Depressed people are just as arrogant as the braggarts. The difference between the two is that the braggart's fantasy is still alive while the depressed person's bubble of false expectations has burst. Both are angry that they're not G-d, but while the braggart is still fighting, the depressed person has given up. Even so, both types suffer constantly.
The arrogant person's delusions of grandeur fool him into trusting his own judgment and intellect as well as thinking of himself as some flawless deity. That's why his world crashes down on him whenever something doesn't go exactly as he wants it to.
The surefire cure for arrogance and depression is to strengthen our emuna. There's no other way.

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