Parshat Ekev In Memory of Shimshon Ben Shalom

וּבְתַבְעֵרָה֙ וּבְמַסָּ֔ה וּבְקִבְרֹ֖ת הַֽתַּאֲוָ֑ה מַקְצִפִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם אֶת־יְהוָֽה׃

Again you provoked יהוה at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah.

There is what to explain based on the words of the Holy Rabbi, the great lover of Israel from Apta, may he be remembered for eternal life. This is what he said - that a person who is a sinner is more loved since he sees himself lowly in his own eyes than someone one who is a great man and righteous with an ego.

As we see its said regarding the sinner -

וְכִפֶּ֣ר עַל־הַקֹּ֗דֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וּמִפִּשְׁעֵיהֶ֖ם לְכׇל־חַטֹּאתָ֑ם וְכֵ֤ן יַעֲשֶׂה֙ לְאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד הַשֹּׁכֵ֣ן אִתָּ֔ם בְּת֖וֹךְ טֻמְאֹתָֽם׃

Thus he shall purge the Shrine of the impurity and transgression of the Israelites, whatever their sins; and he shall do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their impurity.

As we see, that the divine presence rests with them, even in their impurity.

And regarding those with an ego, the sages of Israel teach us -

אָמַר רַב חִסְדָּא וְאִיתֵּימָא מָר עוּקְבָא כׇּל אָדָם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ גַּסּוּת הָרוּחַ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵין אֲנִי וָהוּא יְכוֹלִין לָדוּר בָּעוֹלָם

Rav Ḥisda says, and some say that Mar Ukva says: Concerning any person who has arrogance within him, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said: He and I cannot dwell together in the world

And as is known from the letter that the Ramban wrote to his son, that he must remain humble towards all of humanity. In that its incumbent upon someone to see and know in his head that all of Israel is more important than him, and that he must negate himself infront of all humans, and not in a manner where he negates everyone else thinking that he is more important than them.

And in the Holy writings of Toldot Yaakov Yosef, he references our lesson in the following teaching from the sages of Israel in regards to the Torah teaching us to rid ourself of leavened bread (which the sages teach is referring to our ego)

שֶׁלְּךָ אִי אַתָּה רוֹאֶה, אֲבָל אַתָּה רוֹאֶה שֶׁל אֲחֵרִים וְשֶׁל גָּבוֹהַּ!

Your own leaven you may not see, but you may see leaven that belongs to others and leaven consecrated to God,..

He explains here, that this individual cannot see his own flaws, rather he sees them in everyone else and that of the divine, he's even looking out to find flaws in the divine, which refers to the Torah scholars, who in reality are greater and more elevated than him, and at the same time his afflictions and lowliness he cannot see at all. And we can see with our very own eyes that these type of people who see themselves in their own eyes as righteous, chase after those who are holy and scholars, as due to their ego, they consider themselves to be greater than the rest, and this is why the above verse says the location called וּבְתַבְעֵרָה֙, hinting to Israel who is a burning and raging holy fire during prayers, and then וּבְמַסָּ֔ה, as they stands like a strong tree against all challenges, and וּבְקִבְרֹ֖ת הַֽתַּאֲוָ֑ה, they have already buried all of their earthly desires, and none the less they still angered the Lord, מַקְצִפִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם אֶת־יְהוָֽה!

This is due to their ego that led them to go against the genuine scholars which is hinted to in the verse with the word 'Et', אֶת, as we see taught by the sages of Israel -

רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא וְדָרַשׁ: ״אֶת ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ תִּירָא״ — לְרַבּוֹת תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים.

Rabbi Akiva came and expounded: “You shall be in awe of [et] the Lord your God”: The word et comes to include Torah scholars, and one is commanded to fear them just as one fears God. In any case, Shimon HaAmmassoni no longer derived additional halakhot from the word et.

And this is what it means, they angered 'et' the Lord, which happened via them going after holy and righteous people with their ego.