S.A.L.T. - Friday
Petitioning God to save him from his revengeful brother, Yaakov recalls what he considers the undeserved kindness bestowed upon him by the Almighty: "I am unworthy of all the kindness that You have steadfastly shown Your servant… " (32:11). The Gemara in Masekhet Shabbat, cited by Rashi, explains that Yaakov feared the diminishing of his merits on account of the blessings he had enjoyed. Whereas he did not deserve - in his mind - the wealth and prestige he had acquired, his account has become depleted, perhaps leaving too little to earn protection from Esav.
In this context, the Kotzker Rebbe calls our attention to a clause in our daily tefilot, from the paragraph of "ezrat avoteinu," recited before shemoneh esrei: "mashpil gei'im u-magbi'ah shefalim." We acknowledge God's quality of "lowering the haughty and raising the humble." The Kotzker notes that the haughty remain haughty even after having been lowered, while the humble retain their humility even after the achievement of glory. The arrogant will fail to acknowledge their shortcomings even in the advent of failure and ruin. Instead, they will attribute their downfall to external forces and stubbornly insist upon their inherent greatness. Yaakov Avinu well represents the second half of the clause, the humble person's maintenance of humility even after his rise to fame. Yaakov never takes credit for his accomplishments, be it his impressive victory over Lavan's financial warfare, his accumulation of wealth and honor, or, most of all, his piety. Instead, he recognizes the Hand of God that has led him throughout his journey into exile and provided him with all his needs. No matter how great their achievements, the truly humble deny any credit for themselves and attribute their successes to the Almighty.
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