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R’ Chiya bar Ashi in the name of Rav states that a Torah scholar must possess an eighth of an eighth of haughtiness (Sotah 5a)
)קטנתי מכל החסדים ומכל האמת אשר עשית את עבדך )בראשית לב, יא Sefer Kol Eliyahu asks in the name of the Gra why Yaacov Avinu took credit for the blessing that HaShem showered upon him rather than attribute it to his ancestors. He answers that concerning blessings one already received it is appropriate for a person to attribute that to himself because by doing so he must humble himself with the recognition that his merit may have run out. When asking HaShem for salvation or other blessing one should not ask in his own merit, instead one should make the request in the merit of others. Taking credit for blessings that one already received that leads to humbleness is the degree of haughtiness that Chazal referred to when they said that Torah scholars should possess an eighth of an eighth of haughtiness. The Gra notes that interestingly, the pasuk which teaches this lesson is the eighth pasuk of the eighth parsha of the Torah. How do we understand this concept that a Talmid Chacham should have an eight of an eighth of haughtiness (especially after the Gemara just listed many negative aspects of haughtiness)? 1. Rashi: It is essential that a Torah scholar possess a small degree of haughtiness so that frivolous people not sport with him and so that everyone would accept even his unpopular teachings and rulings. 2. Maharsha: Torah has eight levels (see by Tehillim 119 that has eight verses for each letter of the Aleph-Bais attesting to the praise of Torah). The intention of the Gemara is that a Talmid Chacham should not nullify himself completely out of respect for the Torah. An eighth of an eighth is 1/64; one should not exceed that amount since 63 is ( ס"גor .)גס רוח Also alluded to in the verse (Mishlei 16,5) “It is an abomination to the HaShem every one that is proud in heart” that the first letters of the last four words )ה' כל גבה לב )י"כ"ג"לequals 63. 3. Moritz Chayos: Chaza”l use the example of one-sixtieth to express a slight decree of connection (examples: sleep is 1/60th of death; a dream is 1/60th of prophecy). Any smaller amount indicates as if the item is completely nullified and does not exist. Therefore in this context of an eighth of an eighth (1/64th) means that the haughtiness is as if it does not exist (and this is the lowest doubled number that would suffice). 4. HaYavitz: The same concept is expressed in the Giving of Torah on Har Sinai which is a small mountain but is not a plain or a valley. Those that learn Torah must expect some respect. (Har Sinai is estimated to be 1/64th the height of Har Tabor which was a comparison point in the Medrash, 500 amos in comparison to 32,000 amos). 5. Bechor Shor: Kiddushin 49a states that 10 kavim of haughtiness entered the world; nine kavim went to the land of Ailam and one kav went to the rest of the world. A Talmid Chacham which requires some amount of haughtiness must only take a portion of 1/64th to have an amount less than a Kezeyis to avoid tumah of Avodah Zarah. (A seah is 169 eggs; a kav is 31 and ½ eggs; a Kezeyis is one/half of an egg; thus, 1/64 of a kav is slightly less than one Kezeyis). 6. Iyun Yaacov: A Talmid Chacham needs a little haughtiness to counter the influence of the wicked in life and their counsel to others. The Talmid Chacham needs a small amount of
haughtiness as alluded to in Tehillim 12, the eighth verse “The wicked walk on every side, when vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” 7. Yaaros Devash: Allusion from the verse in Tehillim 119, 63 that begins with the eighth letter (“ :)חI am a companion of all those that fear You, and of them that observe Your precepts.” A Talmid Chacham can not look down upon one that fears HaShem yet lacks Torah learning; but he must be close to such a person that HaShem loves. 8. Kav haYashar: As stated by the Zohar, 72-part Divine name is derived from specified verses in Parshas BeShalach (see Rashi Sukkah 45a). When one puts these names into a chart with eight rows of nine columns, the name that appears at the beginning of the eighth row (or the 64th position) is ( ענוhumble). 9. Maharal: The world was created in seven days. Torah precedes the world and is from a higher source, which is alluded by the concept of eight. Thus, Tehillim 119 which praises Torah is set up in a pattern of doubled eight. Thus, the Talmid Chacham has to be extremely refined as a representative of this level of doubled eights. 10. Chasam Sofer: Alludes to the mitzvah of Milah, which is the first mitzvah after the seven Mitzvos of bnai Noach. Thus, a Talmid Chacham merits to guard his Bris. 11. Gilyoni haShas: This phrase “eighth of an eighth” is not a specify measure but as if saying a little of a little amount. 12. Ruach Chaim: This phrase “eighth of an eighth” refers to 1/64th of a log (a liquid size) which is called a kartov. A kartov of a colored liquid in an amount as large as three logim of water can change the appearance of the water (even though the liquid remains water). Thus, a Talmid Chacham needs to make a slight appearance of haughtiness to instill fear in his students and enforce his edicts with the populace. Nevertheless, this amount of haughtiness does not affect him internally. 13. Panim Yafos: A Talmid Chacham is permitted a small degree of haughtiness in spiritual matters. After the Churban, HaShem is found in the four amos of halacha. The smallest measure is a zeres which is a half of an amah. Thus, in four amos, one would have 8 measures of zeres. One is permitted a small degree of one zeres of haughtiness in spiritual matters. 14. Shaar Yosef: Torah is divided into four parts: Eidus, Chukim, Mitzvos, and Mishpatim. These four parts are each included in the four general concepts of Gemara, Mikra, Mishnah, and Halacha. Four times four equals 16 sections. These 16 sections are further divided each by four other sections of: refraining from the bad, praise the good, actions between a person to another person, and actions between a person and HaShem. Four times 16 equals 64. 15. Shulchan Aruch: Reference is the star Akrav, which is the eighth star in the eighth constellation. This star reflects the concept of coldness (fall from the source of heat); a Talmid Chacham needs a little amount of coldness to disregard unfair demands. 16. Iyun Eliyahu: The normal manner was for seven rows of students to sit in front of their Rebbe according to their level of knowledge. Therefore, anyone that sat in the eighth row was on a very low level, not even worthy of notice. Thus, a Talmid Chacham that does not express haughtiness would sit in the extreme lowest section (eighth seat in the eighth row). 17. Torah Ohr 120a: At first a person must have some sense of ego in order to begin one’s spiritual work. Once one passes this stage, one can then eradicate the ego entirely.
18. Lubavitcher Rebbe: Rabbi Yosef (called Sinai) says he is humble; true humility means being aware of one’s own qualities and using strength when needed, yet remain in total selfnegation.