Many of you knew Maya Klausner. She attended Neve on and off for years. She was the tall dark haired girl who sat in the back of the class, whose family lives in Mivasseret. She suffered from various illnesses that held her back from many of the goals that the rest of us have, but never held her back from wanting to grow spiritually and develop her middos. In spite of the considerable difficulty that life presented to her, her "default" was a smile. There was something very pure and real about her. She was never in the spotlight, and to her, that was just fine. Her sense of self didn't flow from other people, it came from the inside.
Although health issues always plagued her, the last half a year was far worse. She was in and out of Hadassah (far more in than out). I saw her at times when her illness left her exhausted and she could not really speak. Maya still did whatever possible to make me feel welcome, sort of like a host whose guest showed up at three in the morning. For some reason I spoke to her mom last week even though I had been out of touch for a long time, and she told me that the doctors were optimistic, and were planning to release her within the week. As things turned out, she was released from the tikkun that this world provided instead. When I was trying to figure out how she managed to navigate her path with such profound grace, one word came up again and again.
No one was more humble than Maya. Humility is not low self-esteem. It is feeling that your life itself is a gift from Hashem; you feel beloved and recognize that you can never give back all that He has given you. The opposite is going through life with the feeling that you deserve more and better, that you are too big for your life, and that He owes you. That attitude leaves you feeling hated rather than loved. It also leaves you on your own, since you clearly don't feel that you can trust G-d. So the subconscious choice ends up with your selecting to feel small in comparison to G-d, and beloved by Him, or big and hated. In this past week's Parshah, Shelach, you can see a very disturbing image of how things look when this process is corrupted.
The spies were the best and the brightest, handpicked by Moshe for the task that they faced. They failed. How did this happen? Ramban tells us that they did not believe that they had either the strength or the merit to do what had to be done to enter the Land. If all you see is natural cause and effect, they were right! They didn't believe that G-d could defeat the enemies that they would have to face because they saw a limited picture of reality. They were afraid because they relied on themselves rather than on G-d, who had told them that this was the time to go ahead. Right after the spies demoralized almost the entire people, a second group of people did, what they no doubt believed was a tikkun for the spy's failure to believe in their ability to conquer the Land. They would go for it! They fear no one. The problem is that G-d was somehow included in the "no one", and the fact that they were told that G-d wasn't with them, and didn't want them to force their entry, they went for it anyway. They too excluded G_d from the picture.
We are still left with the question; how did people of their caliber fail so miserably. The Zohar tells us about "heichal hatemuros", a spiritual state in which nothing seems to be the way it "should be" from our perspective. Yishmael is the son of a servant, but he rules; Yitzchak is the son of the mistress of the home, but he is denied his heritage again and again in the ongoing history of their interactions. Eisov, the ancestor of people who created the Western culture that we live in today, starting with Rome, was supposed to take a secondary role. Yaakov struggling and oppressed, and again, when you look at our history in Europe. In one of Rebbe Nachman's stories, he tells us of a servant who exchanged the royal prince for a slave child born at the same time. The slave is never really able to accept his role as a noble, and the prince is never at home as a slave….
The "exchange", isn't one that was perpetrated by an evil midwife. When Adam and Chava sinned in the Garden of Eden, they were driven out. In order to prevent their re-entrance G_d put a "revolving sword" at the gate. This means that in order for us to re-enter, we have to develop a level of trust in Hashem that is actualized by our facing every changing and seemingly irrational challenges. Just when you think, "Got it!" the sword turns and you face another uninterpretable challenge.
If you are humble, you say, I cannot deal with this. Only trusting in Hashem will get me though. If you do not believe that He could be there for you (like the spies) you fail because of fear. If you think, you can exclude him you fail because of misguided courage. The two spies who didn't fall for the illusions created by the "revolving sword" were Yehoshua and Kalev. Both of them turned to people who lived lives of truth to help them through the jungle. Yehoshua turned to Moshe, who is described as the most humble of any man on the face of the earth. Kalvev, who didn't have a relationship with Moshe that was as close to him as Yehoshua's was, left the other spies to pray at the tomb of the patriarchs in Chevron to draw down their merits and to gain inspiration.
Maya was a huge success. Her life was one of quiet peace, purity, and inner happiness. In Tehillim when it says, "the meek shall inherit the Land", this is what it looks like. Stay small! Find yourself people who can show you how!