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Independent vs Helpless


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Nisan 12, 5780
People who offer help, that I’m fortunate not to need, accuse me of being too independent. I believe I am acting responsibly and ask for help only when needful. In Europe, we were reared to do for ourselves what we can do and not demand of others what we can do for ourselves. I’m a simple unaccomplished person and have no reason to feel arrogant about anything and yet these accusations cause me to think I appear arrogant to those who accuse me. Please give me Torah’s guidance to understanding.
ב"ה Shalom It is difficult to give proper guidance without knowing specifics but I will do my best to give some general guidelines. As a practical tip, I would first suggest to have a candid conversation with a close friend if she feels there is any manifestation of arrogance in your behavior. You may ask this person If she senses that when you decline someone's offer of assistance, does she feel there is arrogance on you part. If there is, I believe a few words from a good friend should be acceptable. If your friend does not feel there is any such behavior on your part, then you see yourself for who you are and you shouldn't pay attention to what others say about you. After consulting with a professional guidance counselor, I was told that you can also test yourself and ask yourself the following: If when offered assistance, do you feel you decline because you can really handle things, or is it because you are putting them off? If you can handle things on your own, that means you are keeping boundaries which is a completely accepted form of behavior. However, a general rule our Rabbis have guided us that when it comes to pride and conceit , "One must be exceedingly humble in spirit" (Pirkei Avot 4: 4) The Rambam (Maimonides) , in his introduction to Pirkei Avot, (Chapter 4) that his general guidance is to find the moderate path between two extremes of character, e.g. a person should find the golden path between being stingy or overly generous. JHowever, when it comes to humility a person should lean more towards humility that to be so moderately. All the best Have a happy, kosher and HEALTHY Pessach.
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