So… you’re some kind of big deal?
You’ve done it, you’ve got that ace job, or you’ve got your promotion, or your latest blog post went viral.
You’re a big deal right.
People want to get to know you, they come to you for advice and everything else.
You put it lots of hard work to get where you are. That’s not to be taken away from you. But don’t let your ego get away from you either.
In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai tells us
If you have learned a lot of Torah, do not credit it favourably for yourself, because for this you were created (2:8)
If a person has acquired lots of wisdom, studied for years and amassed knowledge, don’t let it get to your head. That’s why we are here!
In essence acquiring wisdom and studying is why we are here in the first place.
However, I’m not going to go into that now. But I would like to share some additional perspectives I read about this particular point.
The first comes from Rabbi Abraham Azoulay who tells us that we shouldn’t think it was all us in the first place! We shouldn’t think it was our hard work alone, for at the time we are created “it is decreed if we will be wise or foolish”.
If we ever let our achievements get to our head and make us think we are better we should recognise the blessings that let us achieve them in the first place.
There is another perspective I would like to share and this is from Rabbi David Pardo an 18th century Italian Rabbi.
He tells us “do not credit it favourably for yourself” and forgo the credit of your partner. As much as you think you have done things yourself don’t forget the people who helped you get there! He mentions his wife, and interestingly his wikipedia page tells us
Pardo married a young woman of Spalato, who aided him in literary labors
Rabbi Pardo recognised his wife was integral in his achievements and we all should recognise the people who are closest to us are those who allow us to do what we do, our parents when were are in school, our wife or husband, our colleagues at work…
Go out, study, learn, do great things, but the sages are reminding us very often we are blessed in the first place to do this, and that we are not flying solo!