Your own honor, or G-d’s honor?
Rebbe Nachman’s Torah teaching, on chodesh Ellul begins, mamash: The first step in teshuva is that you care about G-d’s honor. He says, are you concerned with your own honor, or are you concerned with G-d’s honor? You see, if all you are thinking about is your own honor…
Imagine someone says: “Tonight I walked into a big conference, and I was really disturbed. I walked in, and the gabbi [beadle] wasn’t there to tell them to get up. What’s going on here? Then they called up this Rabbi first, that Rabbi second, and they only called me up to speak fourth. What a chutzpah [nerve]. And they didn’t give me all my correct titles, and they forgot to mention the two PhD’s I have. You know, but because I am humble, I didn’t say a word.”
How does that sound to you? Small creep… Small creep. If you are concerned with your own honor, you are becoming so small, even a garbage pail is too big for you. But if you say, “I don’t care about my kavod [honor], I want G-d’s honor to be big in the world.” Ah, suddenly your neshama becomes so big….
You can fool your head
I can imagine that I am the greatest. Nobody stops me. You know, Rebbe Nachman says, sadly enough, you can fool your head, but you cannot fool your kishkes [stomach]. The kishkes are mamash real; if you didn’t eat, you are hungry. But I can imagine that I am just absolutely the greatest scholar in the world. I look in the mirror, I look at myself, and, “I can’t believe that such a person exists.” It is possible to think like that. And how many people really do walk around thinking like that; “How come the world hasn’t discovered me? Gevalt, what a person I am. If I wouldn’t believe that the Messiah is greater than me, I would think I could be the Messiah.”
There is a Satmar chossid, who calls me up every few weeks at night, and he says to me, “Oy, people persecute me.”
I said, “Oy, gevalt, I am so sorry. Why do they persecute you?”
He begins laughing, “Ha, ha, ha.” He says, “The Messiah shouldn’t be persecuted?” (Ha, ha)