By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Once again, I’d like to share with my dear readers another piece of wisdom from the Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh. In Number 67 of this holy sefer, the Rosh tackles the knotty contemporary problem of snobbery. The Rosh proclaims, “Al tehi bahz l’kol adom – Do not look down at any man…” The Rosh knows human nature. We tend to denigrate people. “He’s not yeshivishe enough,” or “She’s such a slob.” How about the wealthy who don’t mix with the ‘plain’ folk? “They’re just not our type,” they are heard to say. The Rosh says this is completely not the Torah way. Then, he gives a reason for rejecting such behavior. “Sh’ein lo adom sh’ein lo sha’ah – For there is no man who doesn’t have his time.”Imagine that you looked down all the years at Yankele the plumber, thumbing your nose at his dirty overalls and jalopy station wagon. Then,Yankle wins the Mega Million Powerball. Overnight, your view of him does a complete turnabout.
The M’kor Chaim adds that when the Rosh says that there is no one who doesn’t have his time, he isn’t necessarily referring to this world. It might be in the next world. So, when you look down upon the beggar who knocks on your door or interrupts you while you are at prayer, reflect for a moment that this G-d fearing beggar, who does everything honestly and steals minutes throughout the day to say Tehillim and who doesn’t fritter away any time on frivolous pursuits, might have a much more awesome eternity that you do, while all the while you snub him thinking in your mind “What a parasite – preying on hardworking people like me.”
How sad that snobbery has left its ugly imprint on the shidduch scene. Many a wealthy family will not consider taking a middle class girl for their son, exclaiming “They’re just not like us!” How much easier it would be if the rich would take a middle class or poor mate and many a time the girl will be less spoiled and not so high maintenance.
In truth, the Rosh’s warning about not being a snob is inherent in the famous Mishna in PirkeiAvos, “Eizehu chacham? Halomeid miko ladam – Who is wise? He who allows himself to learn from every person.” This is a rare quality. Most people only learn from a select few who, in their eyes, constitute the elite. It takes a wise man to know that you can learn from everyone – even the beggar, even the ‘slob,’ even the angry – because they have trained themselves to focus on the good and to mine that which is special in every person. They notice that this one is a good parent, this one is a good davener, this one is charitable, and this one is a good spouse. Although this person is always yelling, he always finds time to spend with his parents. And even though this one is stingy, he doesn’t talk in shul and he collects the siddurim at the end of davening.
In the merit of purging snobbery from our lifestyle, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
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