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Kenneth Cohen

Entitlement

Parshat Eikev might be the most powerful Parsha of Mussar, discipline, in the entire Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu gives strong warnings as to the dangers of arrogance, complacency, and entitlement. All three of these traits, can lead to an individual’s complete downfall. What these traits have in common, is that there is an abandonment of our total dependence on Hashem.

Moshe clarifies that the Jewish people should not see themselves as so special. He reminds them of the numerous occasions when they rebelled against G-d. It is only because of the evil practices of the surrounding nations, that Israel was chosen.
Although arrogance and complacency are still very much a problem, in harming one’s character and perspective, entitlement may present the biggest challenge today.

Because we live in such an affluent society, and parents and grandparents are able to help their children, like never before, this lends itself to this sense of entitlement. This creates selfishness and ingratitude, which also cause that person great harm.
The Orchot Tzaddikim points out, that we are not entitled to anything. Everything we have is a direct gift from G-d, including gifts from family. This allows us to feel overwhelmed with gratitude for all of Hashem’s abundant gifts.

Everything is a matter of perspective. But having the proper perspective, is what makes a person kind and considerate, as opposed to arrogant and complacent.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at www.cafehebrew.com