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Shavuot-Spiritual Tools: Degel Machane Ephraim: Humility in Torah

The 17th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sadlikov, grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, author of Degel Machaneh Ephraim (1748-1800): The Torah is compared to water, and water is the symbol of Chesed. Just as water trickles from a high place down to a low place, so the holy Torah will only be found in one who considers himself lowly. We cannot exist in one who is proud and high in his own eyes, for then the Torah seems to be farther and higher than he is, for it is known of Torah that, “Its measure is longer than the Earth and broader than the sea (Job 11:9).” Only one who diminishes himself and perceive and see the truth of Torah, for then the Torah contracts and compresses itself for him so that he can understand the depth of its secrets.


I heard the following in the name of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef; “The world says that the Mitnagdim study but the Chassidim do not.” The truth is that the scholars, the more they learn, the more they become great in their own eyes, and so it seems to them that they have learned so much that it is enough. The Chassidim, however, the more they learn, the more they become insignificant in their own eyes. Their entire purpose is to teach themselves to be small and lowly in their own estimation. (Degel Machane Ephraim; Vayikra)

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