Do not feel any less self-esteem or become upset if other people speak or act condescendingly to you. The Sages have said that the honored person is the one who honors others. The converse applies: Who is a lowly person? One who tries to lower others.
Being an honored person is dependent on your behavior towards others and not on other people's behavior toward you. Why feel any lack of self-worth just because someone acts disrespectfully to you? Keep focused on your behavior toward others. When someone does not treat you with respect, it is his problem - not yours.
What's For Lunch?
Doesn't this newspaper article quoted below prove that there are other proper paths to G-d?
"An 83-year-old Indian 'holy man,' who says he has spent seven decades without food or water, has astounded a team of military doctors who studied him during a two-week observation period. Apparently, he does not eat, drink, or go to the toilet.
Jani has since returned to his village, where he will resume his routine of yoga and meditation. He says that he was blessed by a goddess at a young age, which gave him special powers."
Let's assume that the story is true, that this man has really lived the past 70 years without eating and drinking. After all, I certainly saw amazing mystical feats when I was living in India. For instance, there was one guru who "materialized diamonds," another who filled a crowded room with palpable bliss by just walking into it, and there were some who could tell you your thoughts, so this hermit's story just might be true. So, doesn't this wonder prove that his spiritual path is correct?
This story is a perfect example of the Torah's statement; "I put before you life and death… choose life..."[i] G-d gives man free will. This is a hard and fast principle that He does not want to change. He insists on giving us free will because He wants to reward us according to our efforts. He does not want to simply give us gifts.
If all of the obvious spiritual and physical benefits came only from living a life of Torah, no one would have free will. Who would ever choose to do otherwise? So, G-d has put spiritual alternatives in the world in order to give us choices. India's spirituality offers one of those choices.
Just like Balaam (the story from next weeks bible section) represented an alternative to the Torah,[ii] and just like Pharaoh's magicians offered a different way to manipulate spiritual power,[iii] and just like the sons of Abraham took unclean powers with them when they went to the land of the East,[iv] so too, this hermit demonstrates such an unclean power today. How do we know? He says so himself. And not only do his words prove that his 'gift' is unclean, but his life proves it even more.
He said that a "goddess" blessed him with the power. Are there goddesses in the world? And what has he done with his wonderful spiritual gift? He has spent his entire life as a hermit. He lives alone, does yoga exercises, and meditates. What a wasted life!
G-d places us in His world with the instructions to tend His wonderful garden.[v] He wants us to improve His creation, to elevate His world, not to forsake it. A successful spiritual life is one of giving, one of helping those around you, not one spent sitting in a hut and watching your breath for your entire life.
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