We have to learn to apply Moshe's non-entitlement attitude
“And the son of the Israeli woman pronounced the [Divine] Name and cursed… His mother’s name was Shlomis bas Divri, of Shevet Dan.” (Vayikra 24:11)
his man’s father was a Mitzri and his mother from Shevet Dan. He decided to move his tent into the domain of Dan, his mother’s shevet. His neighbor chased him out, saying that the Torah determines a shevet’s lineage, following the father and not the mother. This so infuriated him that he cursed Hashem.
The underlying issue here was a sense of entitlement — his right to put his tent in Dan. And being deprived of something he felt entitled to led to the unthinkable blasphemy of cursing Hashem.
Chazal say (Eiruvin 19) that even at the gates of Gehinnom, the wicked refuse to do teshuvah. Why? I venture it’s because of their feelings of entitlement. A person who’s spent his entire life taking instead of giving expects only the best. Even at the gates of Gehinnom, he’s sure that an error was made — they got the wrong person. His real address is none other than a penthouse apartment in Gan Eden. (Rav Shmuel Brazil)
I have a hard time waiting in line. Especially when the line is unruly and disordered with a first-come-first-serve policy. Therefore, it was with dismay that I walked into an appointment with a new doctor and saw the packed waiting room. What’s more, there was no secretary. The room was rumbling, with everyone there claiming they were supposed to be the next to go into the office.
I gingerly took a seat in a corner. It was clear the appointments were running very late. Every time the doctor’s door opened, everyone would surge to their feet, demanding their turn. The doctor, safe behind his desk, would call out a name, and everyone would sink back down, still grumbling.
The opposite can be learned from the humblest of men, Moshe Rabbeinu, the giver of the Torah. Moshe didn’t claim his due rights to enter Eretz Yisrael. He asked for a present without claiming any entitlement. We have to learn to apply this non- entitlement attitude.
I really didn’t want to be here. But I knew that if I left, I’d need to wait months for another appointment. Everyone else had obviously come to the same conclusion. Which didn’t mean they were happy about it.
Observing the drama around me, I told myself determinedly that I would not become a part of this belligerent bunch. My name would be called when it was my turn, no matter how much I complained. With this resolution, I sat. I said Tehillim. I made some phone calls. I sat some more.
When Rav Dessler traveled on public transportation, he’d never press the button at his stop if he was the only one who needed to get off. Instead, he’d wait until someone else had pressed the button, and get off together with them. When questioned about his peculiar behavior, he responded that everyone on the bus was pressured and in a hurry. Should everyone then need to make an extra stop just for Eliezer Dessler? Like Moshe Rabbeinu, Rav Dessler didn’t feel entitlement, even for the things that he was 100 percent entitled to!
Recently, there was construction on the street of my yeshivah, so I parked on an adjacent street. When I returned at night, there was a note tucked under my windshield wiper. Do not park in this place! I work fixing cars, and because of you I couldn’t work the whole day! Gezel!!
This was a public parking spot. The guy had zero entitlement to this place. If he could call this stealing, I wonder how Hashem, who’s called Makom — place — feels about us when we park our bodies in His space to go against His will. We definitely don’t want to receive a note of reprimand from Him.
It was three hours later (yes, three!) by the time it was my turn. I was exhausted — not just from the long wait, but from the tension squeezing every person in that waiting room.
Still, as I rose, I gave myself a mental pat on my back. I didn’t give in. I wasn’t part of this mutinous melee.
Then I made a dash for the door to make sure no one got there first.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 792)
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