eMussar – The Wisdom of Personal Growth
A daily inspirational, concise idea, with a suggested action.
PARSHA INSIGHTS\THE SAGES OF MUSSAR
When Moshe prayed to be allowed to enter the land of Israel, he did not base his pleas on his merits. Rather, he asked for a “free gift”. Yet, a gift, by definition, is free. If so, what message is conveyed in the phraseology a “free gift”?
There are various categories of remuneration and compensation. Payment is an obligation that rests upon an employer to pay his employee. Reward, on the other hand, implies a non-mandatory payment. For instance, if someone returns a wallet that he found, it would be a nice gesture for the owner to reward him for his kind efforts. However, he is under no liability to compensate the finder because the finder voluntarily returned the wallet.
In addition, an employee has no claim to any remuneration beyond his fixed salary. For instance, when a general wins a war, there is no obligation on the king to pay him more than his predetermined salary. On the other hand, if he loses the war, he might be reprimanded by the king for inefficiency. If the king is pleased with his general’s daring victory he might want to give him a gift as a token of appreciation. While in times of peace, when the general does not actively fight a war, a gift from the king would be undeserved or a “free gift”.
In conclusion there are three categories of non-mandatory payment: 1) a reward for a voluntary good deed, 2) a gift as a bonus for doing exceptional work, 3) a free, undeserved gift.
Although Moshe was the greatest of all the Jews, he was the humblest man on the face of the earth. Despite all of his incomparable accomplishments, he considered himself devoid of merits. Therefore, he asked HaShem for a “free gift”. In Moshe’s humble perception of himself; he did not assume that he was entitled to any “reward” or “bonus”. The only thing he could hope for was a free gift from HaShem.
Our Sages teach us that humility is the most precious attribute. To consider oneself empty of merit before Hashem is the state of true humility. Let us follow in the footsteps of our master and teacher, Moshe Rabenu and aspire to the path of humility.
[Based on the K’sav Sefer, Parshas Devarim]
TODAY: When you pray, ask HaShem to grant your request as a free gift.
By Rabbi Zvi Miller.
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