Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Taanis 15: Levels and Levels 

On this daf, we find that humiliation from others is worse than self-humiliation.

Rav Chaim of Volozhin and his brother, Rav Zalmele of Volozhin were in self-imposed exile. Posing as simple travelers, they were actually making great spiritual rectifications as they wandered the countryside, working on improving themselves in every way.

Once, they came to an inn where they wished to stay the night. The owner of the inn assumed that they were simple people and didn’t feel like putting himself out to get them a bed. Instead of being gracious, he shouted horrible insults at them. It was obvious that he felt that he could shame them without suffering any consequence, so he vented his frustrations on them and summarily threw them out of his establishment.

As the brothers continued on their journey, Rav Chaim noticed that his brother, Rav Zalmele, was crying. “Why should you cry, dear brother? Why should you pay any mind to the humiliations delivered by fools? Believe me, I didn’t pay a bit of attention to that man while he was yelling. Why should I listen to him?”

“Oh, I also don’t put any stock into his words,” Rav Zalmele immediately replied.  “I am not crying because of the humiliation heaped on me by the innkeeper. That’s over and I certainly don’t care about that now. I am upset because I noticed that when he was shouting at me, I felt deeply pained. I realized that I am not on the level of those who are shamed but don’t feel it. Should I not cry?” (HaChofetz Chaim—Chayav Upa’alav, Part I, p. 121).

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