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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Bow Low, Climb High

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

In honor of the Aufruf of our daughter Nechama to Avrohom Walkin of Bayit VeGan which will take place this Shabbos.

The Holy Ari once taught his students a guaranteed segula or formula for success.

In the morning when we pray we bow our heads to say Modim. If while bowing we humbly acknowledge in our hearts that all is from Hashem, we can open the heavenly pipes of bracha. By humbling ourselves before Hashem, He will grant us a day of success and blessing.

Nadav and Avihu stood out amongst the millions of Jews that wandered in the desert. They were handsome, talented, born leaders and the children of Aharon.

They used to say, “Our father’s brother is a king, (Moshe). Our mother’s brother is a Nasi (Nachshon). Our father is the Kohein Gadol. We are the future! We are it! We have it all! Who can we marry? There are no women good enough for us. (Vayikra Rabba 20;4)

They had it all - and in the blink of an eye, they lost it all. In two quick verses they were cut down. The Torah doesn’t comment. Their father Aharon didn’t comment. Moshe hardly said a word.

The story is an eternal one. It takes place over and over again. It happens to us as individuals and it happens to us as a nation. We successfully climb to the greatest heights. It is at that apex that we must find humility. It is exactly at the greatest heights that we must say Hallel and acknowledge that but for Hashem’s help we would be nowhere. As we recognize our esteem we must know from where it comes, and that we are not immune to falling. Dovid HaMelech cautioned, “I have said smugly"I will never fall.” Yet if Hashem hides His face from me I will be petrified.

It seems to me that G-d is happy to make us great. He makes just one proviso, that we recognize that the greatness is His gift. Jewish greatness is found in humility. The greater we become - the more humble we must be. The moment of complacency is the moment that we lose our greatness.

It is counterintuitive but it works. We can climb so high by bowing so low.

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