Positive Vision - Day 68
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 68 - A Class Act - A Man of Character
We spoke yesterday about the power of self-control.
Here is another way to look at it.
Think of someone you would describe as classy; not fancy, but classy. You certainly know people who present themselves in an understated and modest fashion and can best be described as “classy.” What character trait specifically makes them classy?
We often describe people with class as having “character” [not as in “What a character!” but as possessing character]. What does it mean to “have character”?
Several commentators explain the pasuk that states that Hashem created Adam in His Image )b’tzelem Elokim (as meaning that Hashem granted Man bechirah - the capacity to choose. This capacity is exclusive to Man. Whereas everything else in nature is instinctive, Man is in a class by himself. He can choose to suppress his impulses. This capacity, the capacity to choose, is thus his character. When we speak of the “character” of wine, we mean its unique quality. When we speak of man’s defining character, we refer to his capacity to choose.
Think about a classy person. His defining quality is that his actions are measured. He never acts on impulse, but responds in a logical manner to whatever the situation calls for. He is “classy” and possesses “character” because in his approach to life, he exemplifies the defining character of Man, that which places Man in a class of his own.
Don’t you want to think of yourself as being classy? As possessing character?
The Torah refers to us as a “Kingdom of Priests,” and Chazal tell us that we are royalty: “All Jews are princes.” What is a prince? He is one who is in control - first of himself; second of others.
In the Sefer HaKuzari the king asks the rabbi to describe a pious individual (a chassid). Here is his response:
“A pious man is the guardian of his country; he gives its inhabitants their provisions and all they need. He is just; he wrongs no one, and doesn’t give anyone more than his due. When he calls upon them, they are ready to obey him. He orders, they execute; he forbids, they abstain.”
The king asks: “I inquired about a pious man, not a prince?”
The rabbi responds: “A pious man is nothing but a prince who controls his senses, his mental and his physical faculties, as it is written: ‘One who rules his spirit is greater than one who conquers a city’ (Mishlei 16:32). He is fit to rule, because if he were the prince of a country he would be just as he is to his body and soul. He subdues his passions, keeping them under control ...”
Don’t you want to be proud of who you are, to regard yourself as a prince?
It all begins with self-control.