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Recognizing Your Greatness

By: Mrs. Rina Zinkin

(Ideas in this Dvar Torah were taken from a Parsha schmooze given by Rav Pam, zt”l in Shabbos with Rav Pam)


In Parshat Metzora the Torah tells us (14:2), “This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification: he shall be brought to the Kohen.” When a person thought that he was afflicted with tzaraat, he went to the Kohen, whose task it was to diagnose the symptoms and determine the person’s status. If the person was afflicted, the Kohen would declare him “tamei” and would require this person to separate himself from the community and adhere to the restrictions that tzaraat placed on him.


The Mishna (Nega’im 2:5) states that a Kohen is permitted to examine anyone’s affliction except his own. If a Kohen receives a nega, he must go to another Kohen for an evaluation. He can not examine his own nega. This Mishna is the source for a common expression: “Ein Adam Roeh Nigei Atsmo”- A person does not see his own afflictions (i.e. shortcomings/ faults). People can have very sharp eyes when it comes to seeing other people’s faults, and are able to discern and criticize the negative attributes ormistakes of others. Yet, people can be blind to their own shortcomings and may consider themselves perfect and beyond reproach.


There is another side which may be even more damaging to a person than his inability to see his own faults. That is, his inability to see his own maalot- virtues. Hashem has blessed each person with specific attributes, skills, talents, and abilities. If a person does not realize and appreciate his maalot, his great potential, or his achievements, he can, chas v’shalom, feel worthless and may become sad ordepressed. Rabeinu Yona, in Shaar HaAvodah, writes that the first step in doing teshuva is for a person to recognize his self-worth, his talents, and how precious he is to Hashem. When a person realizes his importance, he will feel that sin is not fit for him; sinning is “below” him.


It is important to underscore that recognizing one’s virtues is not at all a contradiction to the character trait of humility. Humility allows for and encourages a person to realize that Hashem has blessed him with skills and talents, and now has a responsibility to utilize them l’shem shamayim.


May we be zocheh to look at ourselves and see our uniqueness, our individual strengths, and many many maalot. May we recognize that these gifts are from Hashem, and use them in his Service.


Have a beautiful and uplifting Shabbos and please be in touch!

Rina Zinkin –





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