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Modesty is the Best Policy

By: Rabbi Yitzchak Lerner

"Enough of encircling this mountain. Turn yourselves NORTHWARD". Devarim 2:3

The Torah tells us to leave the mountain and that we will be passing through the lands of Esau. It is interesting to note the direction it tells us to take at that point. We were south of the land of Israel, so why then does it tell us to turn NORTHWARD. Isn't it obvious? This is the end of 40 years - no more wandering.

The Kli Yakar points ot the word for North is tzafon. It is interesting to note that the word in Loshon Hakodesh for hidden is tzafun; different pronunciation but same letters. This is why the afikoman on Pesach is called tzafun - it is hidden the whole meal.

The Kli Yakar says: When we are amongst the non-Jewish world, specifically Esav, we need to keep ourselves hidden. By that he means to say " don't be to showy”. Keep yourselves modest - don't flaunt your status.

The truth is that this idea is relevant even amongst us. This is the idea of modesty. Not being so flashy. Even if you can B"H afford it - you don't have to buy the most expensive car. You don't need to have the biggest home - where everyone will say "wow, what a house” That is not a “hidden” person. That is not a modest person.

The Kli Yaakar takes this idea one step further and basically says - all the more so when we are amongst the other nations of the world. Don't show off your wealth. Esav feels that we stole their birthright. We know that this is not true but none the less that is the way they feel. There is no reason to flaunt our status.

This does not mean that one should not try and achieve financial success. Most of the time it’s a huge bracha. What he is saying is don't be flashy, don't flaunt it. Aside from the fact that this is a good middah in general, it’s even more so while we are living in the lands of non-Jews. It is definitely not an endearing value.

May we all continue to grow in all of our middos

Shabbat Shalom




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