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Finishing a Book

R. Twerski on the Chofetz Chaim

...with the person who is bright, attractive, gifted, wealthy, etc. There is no reason to deny these endowments, but one should realize how he came by them. They are gifts from G-d, and he should feel proud and grateful for the Divine bounty, and realize that he has a responsibility to put these gifts to maximum use in the Divine service. Since one can never reach perfection, and the ultimate goal of "adequately" serving G-d is never reached, one should feel humble in how relatively little one has done with what he was given, and how much more one must endeavor to do. Thus, the greater should be one's sense of indebtedness to G-d, one's sense of responsibility, and one's humility.

In the past generation we were blessed with a Torah personage, the Chafetz Chaim, who was a paragon of humility and self-effacement. We are fortunate in having eyewitness accounts of this great sage's humility. His many works have become the authoritative guidelines for halachic daily living, and they reveal his immense Torah scholarship.

Just think, if humility would require a denial of one's assets, then the Chafetz Chaim would have to consider himself bereft of learning. If so, on what basis did he write the authoritative Mishna Brurah, the halachic work of the century? Clearly, the Chafetz Chaim was well aware of his vast knowledge of Torah, yet this did not turn his head to vanity. I am certain that when he finished his last paragraph of his magnum opus he did not say, "There! Now the world will recognize who I am." but rather gave thanks to G-d for giving him the means to expound on Torah, and heaving a great sigh, realized that given the capabilities with which G-d had blessed him, he had not even begun to fulfill his mission.

A person whould therefore know factually what is right with him and what is wrong with hem. This allows him to put his skills to constructive use and to correct his defects. This is a correct perception of reality, and does not result in vanity. It is truth, and truth is always constructive. When actual defects exist, they can be corrected, and such correction contributes to spiritual advancement.


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