Shemos: "Relieve me of the bondage of self!"

by Twerski, Rabbi Dr. Avraham (See all authors)

The Torah says that Moses left the royal palace and went out unto his brethren and looked upon their burdens. The Medrash states that he went among the Hebrew slaves and assisted them in their hard labor. While sympathy is a fine trait, it is not enough. Moses wanted to feel the suffering that his brethren were experiencing.

The Talmud lauds Rebbe Zeira, who "never rejoiced in the misfortune of others." This is hardly the praise of a great person. Enjoying other people's misfortune is reprehensible. The praise of Rebbe Zeira is that he could not rejoice in his own simchos as long as he knew that there were others living in poverty and distress.

A Chassidic Rebbe saw his daughter and her friends being merry. He scolded them, saying, "Don't you know that the baker's child is seriously ill? How can you laugh and be merry when you know that others are suffering?"

Addiction is a malady of "selfism." Recovery requires mutuality.