The Precious Diamond Within Us (Pirkei Avot, 4:1)

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“Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? The person who learns from every person. Who is strong? The person who overcomes his passions. Who is wealthy? The person who is happy with his portion. Who is honored? The person who honors others.”

This passage of Ben Zoma presents a formula for spiritual success. The following parable illustrates the central pillar of Ben Zoma’s ideology.

Steve and Larry found two precious diamonds. Each one took one of the diamonds and went his own separate way. Steve realized the value of the gem and guarded it with his very life. Larry did not fathom the value of the gem and traded it for a loaf of bread.

The diamond in this parable represents our wise and lofty soul. The person who appreciates the greatness of the soul will devote his life to holy endeavors, such as Torah study and good deeds. Accordingly, he will merit blessings in this world and earn a share of eternal life in Gan Eden. Whereas, the person who does not realize the preciousness of his soul will pursue the earthly passions and forgo the aspirations of his holy soul.

In this light, Ben Zoma teaches us that one who sincerely values wisdom, will learn from every person. In addition, he will protect his soul by overcoming the passion of the body. Then, he will attain true joy through his spiritual achievements. What’s more, the goodness of the Torah will rectify his character; he will honor every person and be honored in return. (based on the commentary of the Yavetz to Pirkei Avot)

Today: Realize that through the power of your soul you can attain spiritual success, true joy, and eternal life.

Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Zvi Miller and The Salant Foundation

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