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Short & Sweet: Character That Counts

November 5, 2019

Short & Sweet: Character That Counts Hello. This is Rabbi Bregman. And in today�s
short and sweet I�d like to address a question I was just asked yesterday. Somebody asked me this question, and I ended
up speaking about it in my parsha class this week. And the question was, simple one. A
person said to me, �Listen, if a Jew learns Torah, if a Jew sits and learns in the word
of Hashem, shouldn�t they be better, more kind, more polite, more giving, less rude.
Shouldn�t they have more enhanced middos, character traits, then the average person
you�ll see on the street?� I said, �ya, of course.� So the person said to me, �but
Rebbe, I met in my day a couple people who are observant but they�re not as nice, kind,
sweet, as I would like them to be. So how do we even understand that? I think that guy
learns Torah. Why is he like that?� So here�s the answer. The answer is, to
my understanding, found in an expression that we find in Pirkei Avos called Derech Eretz
Kadma LaTorah. Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah. What does Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah mean?
Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah means that Derech Eretz, middos, character traits, is koadim
� it comes before Torah. What does it mean it comes before? Is being a nice guy more
important than learning Torah, doing what the Torah says? No, chas vshalom. I don�t
know what religion that is. That doesn�t belong in a beis medrash � get that out
of here. What does it mean Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah?
What that could mean is that you first have to make sure you have good middos, good character
traits, because Rav Chaim Shmulevitz and others write about this � that the character traits
of a Jew, become the vessel, the kli, the container, that holds your Torah knowledge.
So what happens? That if you learn Torah, you�re pouring the best wine imaginable
in the world into you as who you are as a human being. But if you don�t have the right
character traits, it�s like you�re pouring a million dollar bottle of wine into a Styrofoam
cup that had a hole popped into it. What�s going to happen? You know what�s going to
happen. The wine is going to spill right out. It�s not going to stay. So Derech Eretz has to be Kadma LaTorah. You
first have to develop yourself into a kli, a container with proper traits, and proper
values. You make yourself a proper Jew and proper human being, and if you�ll become
that, when the Torah starts to be poured into you, it will retain and stay. And that�s basically the answer I gave to
this person. That�s what I would tell you as well. If you meet a person who they claim
to learn Torah, but they don�t seem to be acting the right way, you should know this
is a person who never worked on their middos � because all the learning could come in
but it�s not going to stay. It�s not going to make a roshain. It won�t make the impression
that we�re definitely going for. I hope you enjoyed today�s clip. This is
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman of the Jewish Executive Learning Network. And we�ll see
you the next time on Torah Anytime.

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