Guest post by Daniel
My ga'ava (pride) got the best of me today.
I called my family to wish them mazal tov on their recent simcha. And the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "Why didn't anyone call and tell me! I had to hear the news from a person who heard from someone else over the internet!" So much for wishing "mazal tov."
In parshas Bo, Hashem says to Pharaoh, "Until when will you refuse to be humbled before Me?" (Shemos 10:3)
The Mizrachi and Sifesi Chachamim comment that "humbled" here could have been interpreted as "afflicted before Me" or "subjugate yourself before Me." However, Hashem did not want to afflict nor subjugate Pharaoh. The plagues were intended to humble Pharoah, which is why Rashi uses the word "humbled."
Pharaoh is the epitome of arrogance. Pharoah the arrogant said, "the Nile is mine and I have formed it for myself." (Yechezkel 29:3).
The plagues are sent to humble this creature who represents complete arrogance and pride. Yet what did it take to bring him down, to bring down the arrogance and pride? It took great wonders and miracles - all of the plagues and the splitting of the sea!
With this in mind, it becomes easier (at least for me) to forgive myself, instead of beat myself, for slipping in the daily struggle with my yetzer hara over this matter. Only when I'm at peace with myself do I stand a chance of overcoming my yetzer. And after all, Hashem is forgiving me, so shouldn't I?
Rav Kook zt"l said:
“The man who constantly frets over his own sins and those of the world should constantly forgive himself and the world.
By doing so he will draw forth forgiveness and the light of kindness…and bring joy to G-d and man…And he will earn the blessing reserved for Abraham: “there is no generation without one like Abraham.”
(Erpalei Tohar, 53-4)
In my experience, even just remaining silent in the face of my pride requires great mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice). And it is mesiras nefesh that has always been the source of our People's redemption. May the Redemption come speedily in our days.