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    Littleness & leaders – Vayyishlach

    katontiThough there was a famous boxer who used to proclaim, “I’m the greatest!”, Judaism has no time or sympathy for arrogant boastfulness.

    Indeed, some rabbinic figures constantly wonder why people admire them, and they sometimes add HaKatan – “The Minor One” – to their Hebrew signatures.

    Presumably this custom derives from Jacob, who says of himself in this week’s sidra, Katonti – “I am too little (for all the boons I have received)” (Gen. 32:11).

    Rashi thinks that Jacob is saying, “I must have diminished my spiritual capital by receiving so many blessings from God”.

    Nachmanides thinks Jacob is not adding up how many spiritual points he has left, but is simply being humble: “I have received so many boons which I didn’t really deserve”.

    All of us ought to echo this assertion. With all our problems, and nobody is without their peckel, we ought to count our blessings and think how unworthy we are of them.

    Things could have been so much worse for most of us – and if they weren’t, we ought to be wondering what we did to deserve our joys.

    Where some people sadly ask themselves, “Why did God treat us so badly?”, we should be asking, “Why did He give us so many boons?”

    The Midrash says in the Mechilta, “God revealed Himself in a bush, to teach that the highest may be found in the lowliest”.

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