Bolt of Inspiration 10 - How to Use Your Ego

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August 18 2009
Regarding the proper treatment of the proselyte, Rashi, in this weeks’ Torah portion, asks us to reflect upon how much pain we would be in if we were in the same situation. Why does Rashi feel that personal reflection is the key to mastering this charge? Why is it not enough to follow a moral charge because it is simply the right thing to do?

Rav Eliyahu Dessler, in a collection of magnificent and creative essays and original letters, asks “why did G-d have to create our Ego so strong?” R. Dessler boldly argues that it is primarily because of our ego that we are able to reach levels of spirituality otherwise unattainable. Our unquenchable thirst for greatness and godliness pushes us beyond our apparent limits. However, left unchecked this ego may go too far. Left unchecked, we may deify ourselves. What keeps us in balance? “Veahavta Leracha Kamocha”, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Meaning, use your ego to first ascertain what we would want for ourselves and in that we can figure out what it is that we must do for our neighbor.

Rashi’s appeal to our own personal feelings arouses our ego to identify our own needs and in turn allows us to appreciate our neighbors’ needs.


“A Bolt of Inspiration” is a brief weekly spiritual thought presented by Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn. Rabbi Einhorn is the Rabbi of the West Side Institutional Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

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