Sharing Torah Insights

You Matter

Posted on כ״ז באייר ה׳תשע״ו (June 4, 2016) | in Bamidbar, Sefer Bamidbar, Uncategorized | by


In Parshat Bamidbar, we see that Moshe counted each of the people in Bnei Yisrael “בְּמִסְפַּר שֵׁמוֹת” – by their names. Our rabbi in shul touched on the idea that in this counting each person needed to feel as if they personally mattered.

This made me think about a new understanding of the mishna in Pirkei Avot (4:1):

בן זומא אומר:איזהו חכם? הלומד מכל אדם… איזהו גבור? הכובש את יצרו… איזהו עשיר? השמח בחלקו… איזהו מכֻבד? המכבד את הבריות…

Ben Zoma says: Who is the wise one? He who learns from all men… Who is the mighty one? He who conquers his desires… Who is the rich one? He who is happy with his lot… Who is honored? He who honors the created beings..

Who is wise?

He who realizes there is something he can learn from everyone. Everyone has their own unique perspective and experience we can learn from.

Who is mighty?

When someone learns from someone else, they might then think “I wish I was like so-and-so. They are so this and so that. I wish I was them.” The mighty is the one who conquers this jealousy and realizes that man’s ideal is to be himself.

Who is wealthy?

When someone fully accomplishes conquering the desire to be someone else, and becomes happy with who they personally are – this is obtaining the greatest riches.

Who is honored?

When someone feels fully actualized, it’s easy to look down on others who aren’t as good/smart/friendly/rich/etc.. The honored person is the one who realizes that everyone else is also being their best self, and is able to honor others for being themselves.

The story is told of Zusha, the great Chassidic master, who lay crying on his deathbed. His students asked him, “Rebbe, why are you so sad? After all the mitzvahs and good deeds you have done, you will surely get a great reward in heaven!”

“I’m afraid!” said Zusha. “Because when I get to heaven, I know God’s not going to ask me ‘Why weren’t you more like Moses?’ or ‘Why weren’t you more like King David?’ But I’m afraid that God will ask ‘Zusha, why weren’t you more like Zusha?’ And then what will I say?!”

(Story copied from


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