“When a person makes something of himself and does not nullify himself before the Torah, his learning is of little consequence.
If Torah study is not for the sake of Heaven, it is no more than playing. Like those who claim that Torah sharpens the mind – might they not better play chess or use something else to whet the brain?
That which does not repudiate itself before holiness cannot receive anything from it.
The effect of sanctity is to go out of oneself toward the other; I no longer want anything for myself. The self is relinquished and abandoned.
The result is a spontaneous giving; the holy is always dealing out and bestowing gifts because it is not considering itself.
In contrast is an act of charity that is done, even if with the best of intentions, only because it makes one feel good.
The shell is easily capable of identifying with an image of righteousness that enhances the self.
To be sure, there are many degrees of such egotism, from the self-absorbed student to one who snatches what he can, or just opens his mouth to be fed while presenting a show of clean hands.”
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From In the Beginning: Discourses on Chasidic Thought by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, “Elixir of Death”, pp.. 204-205