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Cheshvan 28

Even if the entire world considers you a tzaddik (pious and righteous), you should nevertheless think of yourself as if you were sinful (Niddah 30b).

In 1965, I visited the Steipler Gaon, a sage whom people often consulted for medical advice. Since he had heard that I was a psychiatrist, he wanted to find out new developments in medications for mental illnesses. I related to the Gaon whatever I knew about the most recent advances.

"Is anything available that can cure someone from delusions?" he asked. I told the Gaon that delusions were very resistant to treatment, and that while antipsychotic medications could subdue overt psychotic behavior, the delusional thinking itself was difficult to eradicate.

"But what if someone has the delusion that he is the greatest tzaddik in the generation?" the Gaon asked. I could not restrain myself and laughingly replied, "No medication can cure that."

The Gaon shook his head sadly. "Too bad," he said. "That malady is so widespread."

Delusions of any kind are a sign of mental illness. How sick a person must be to consider oneself a tzaddik, and how wise the Talmud was to caution us against developing such delusions!

Today I shall...

try to be honest with myself, and even if my behavior is such that people may think I am a tzaddik, I must not allow myself to be deluded.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) mysteries, November 15, 2009 9:38 PM

Self criticism

It is of upmost importance that one must not be too haughty and uppity about things in life. When the subject is philosophy one must not think that they are the best or the most knowlegable, the most sanctified, the most realised i.e. the superlative of anything. This life is not worthy of any great mention. If one queries the role in life and what the life means then one may delve into philosophy and theory. If one finds answers then they are not always correct because in philosphy many things are unproved and dubious and require belief in that individual to think that they will accept some unknowns which is arbritrary to that person. Strangely no scientific events occur in philosophy as such but there are many documentations of philosophicaly explained (scientifically unexplained) occurances. Science on the other hand is proven. One should not be to enamoured with this life and get on with things in an orderly manner.

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