The Talmud (Airuvin 54b) relates that Rabbi Praida had to repeat each lesson to a certain student four hundred times until the student understood it. This is usually cited as an example of the patience needed to be a teacher. We can also see the courage and perseverance of the student. Most people would give up after twenty or thirty repetitions and say they lack the necessary intelligence to comprehend the subject. This student realized he would eventually understand if he just heard each point enough times. When you say you cannot understand something, how many times did you try before you reached your conclusion? We have tremendous ability to understand almost anything if we have the patience to hear the ideas enough times. Pride gets in the way, and so does frustration. But a truth seeker does not worry about what others might think and keeps his mind on the goal.
-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.384
The Talmud (Shabbos 31a) relates how someone tried to get the great sage Hillel angry by continually interrupting him on Friday afternoon when he was in the middle of bathing for Shabbos. Although the man asked Hillel ridiculous and irrelevant questions, Hillel answered him patiently.
The Talmud says we all need to strive to reach this level of humility. That is, we are all obligated to work on ourselves to develop the total patience of Hillel whom no one could anger. See my book, “Anger: The Inner Teacher” (ArtScroll) for elaboration of a nine-step program for conquering anger.
Sources: see Rabbi Yechezkail Levenstein – Ohr Yechezkail, Midos, p.14
Every person is obligated to be aware that he has great worth. This does not refer to the illusory self-worth of arrogantly feeling better than others, but a true self-worth, enormous in size and scope. The Talmud says: “Every individual is obligated to say: ‘The world was created for me.'” Rashi explains that we must think “I have the importance of an entire world.”
Every human is a one-time phenomenon, with a unique blend of character traits and personality. Each is born in a specific time of history and in a specific environment. Never before and never again.
This uniqueness gives you great importance. Only you can accomplish your unique life tasks.
Sources: Alai Shur, vol.1, p.168; Gateway to Happiness, p.120
Courage is only courage when it is connected to wisdom. It is immature to risk one’s life or health for fun or thrills. Not only is this immature, it is dumb. The Sages ask: “Who is a wise person? One who foresees the outcome.” (Talmud – Tamid 32a)
Driving a car at speeds high above the speed limit because one enjoys the feeling, is stupid. Climbing in dangerous places when one doesn’t have a valid need isn’t courage, but foolhardy. Walking in dangerous places just to prove to others that one is brave is reckless.
Life is too precious to waste it with illusory courage.
-from Rabbi Pliskin’s book, “Courage — Formulas, Stories, and Insights”
A person is obligated to say:
“The world was created for me” (Talmud – Sanhedrin 37a), and
“When will my deeds reach the level of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?”
The Torah attitude is that we are obligated to be aware of our greatness. Feel proud that you are created in the image of the Almighty. Pride in the elevation of your soul is not only proper, but is actually an obligation to recognize your virtues and to live with this awareness.
-Sources: Toras Avraham, p.49; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Happiness, p.119