Our generation is overflowing with arrogant people. Everywhere we look, we see them. Although most of us would admit that arrogant people are not so much fun to be around, the majority of people in our generation respect and strive to be just like them. It is not too hard to spot them. Unless, we happen to be looking in the mirror.
Arrogance is simply a person lacking the proper emuna that “Ein Od Milvado, there is none other than Hashem” (Deuteronomy 4:35). Hashem often uses sufferings to deflate a person’s inflated ego. A person’s downfall can be the result of one’s own arrogance.
The wisest of us, King Solomon says, “Pride precedes destruction, and arrogance comes before failure” (Proverbs 16:18). If we honestly look, we can usually find at least a hint of arrogance before every crisis in life.
Hashem is exceedingly compassionate when He deflates our egos, since an arrogant person cannot get close to Hashem. “The Holy One, blessed be He, says: The arrogant person and I cannot dwell in the same world” (Sota 5a). Hashem, then, removes His Divine Presence, which is when suffering sets in.
Most of us suffer, at least at times, to an inflated ego. During these times, we forget that Hashem is the only One who controls everything. Left unchecked, Hashem would have to take His Divine Presence from us, leading to suffering. Hashem, in His abundant kindness, quickly sends another person or some failure to deflate our overly inflated egos.
Hashem’s goal in sending us sufferings is to prod us to do some serious soul-searching, so we can correct our ego problem. As long as we remain arrogant, our next crisis is just around the corner. Hashem helps us by deflating our inflated egos in order that we can be close to Him. The choice is ours — arrogance or Hashem.
Based on The Garden of Emuna, by Rabbi Shalom Arush