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Women's Corner

Perfecting Our Character Traits, עבודת המדות.

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe
Thursday, October 30, 2014/Heshwan 6, 5775

Our holy Torah commands us to walk in all G-d's ways, ללכת בכל דרכיו  (Debarim, 10:10). The obvious question is, how is it at all possible for a human being to walk behind the Shekhina, G-d's holy Presence, in particular, since God is referred to as a consuming fire, אש אוכלת?

Razal explain that the way we can walk in God's ways is by emulating His qualities and attributes. For example, when we learn that G-d visits the sick (as in the case of Abraham Abinu, 'a"h), buries the dead (as with Moshe Rabbenu, 'a"h), and so on, we should adopt His ways and do the same.

Refining one’s character (עבודת המדות), is a lifetime's work. According to Rabbenu Hayyim Wittal,'a"h, the requirement to improve and polish our character traits is not counted among the 613 commandments, rather, it is an absolute and necessary prerequisite for acquiring our Torah.

Just as there are physical ailments, there are spiritual ones too. The Rambam says that a person whose qualities are flawed manifests a spiritual disease, which requires attention and healing, the same way we would treat any physical disease, (perhaps even more so).

The purity of our character traits and the level of their refinement are an indication of what kind of people we are. We often make the mistake of measuring people, based on external qualities, such as their height, eye color, physical proportions, etc.. The true and real person is hidden within us, and is expressed outwardly by our actions.

Are we patient, compassionate and humble? Do we judge favorably or do we, perhaps, display the opposite qualities? Each one of us is here to improve and refine her specific and unique qualities, which require refinement.

Therefore, let us go to work and dedicate ourselves to our lifetime project, perfecting our Middoth. This will undoubtedly raise us to great heights, for we will follow in Hashem's ways.

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