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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “To overcome one’s primal urges”

Once Rabbi Dovid of Lelov described with great feeling an extraordinary example of the fear of heaven that he himself witnessed.

As he was traveling through the forest, he saw a young man standing over his father with an ax in his hand and yelling, “Father, if I were not afraid of God, I would chop off your head!”

Rabbi Dovid stood there a long while contemplating this man’s fear of heaven and was deeply impressed because he realized that the man had to engage in a great struggle to overcome his urge to kill.

Rabbi Dovid recognized in him a dedication to overcome one’s primal urges that he did not see even in his closest followers-in whom that would have translated itself into a willingness to sacrifice something that they deeply desired out of the fear of God.

Someone who looks at others from this perspective will truly feel humble before every man–even if he himself is a great Jewish leader.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz