Students of Abraham vs. Bilam II:

The Relative vs. the Absolute Life


Rabbi Israel Chait

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Last week we discussed Rabbi Chait’s comments on Pirkei Avos concerning the students of Abraham vs. the students of Bilam. Rabbi Chait spoke on Pirkei Avos’ three characteristics that differentiate these two groups. The third character is a humble personality: one who has no categories determining with whom he can and cannot associate…he sits with all men. (Rashi)  This week, Rabbi Chait elaborated further.

Rabbi Chait cited Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l as a very humble person. Although a giant compared to others, Rav Moshe viewed his abilities as not due to his credit at all. He was created a certain way, and never viewed his unique nature as justifying any type of arrogance. He treated all others equally.

Abraham was also a giant; yet, he associated with all types, in his desire to truly help them in their life’s mission. He cared about others, even risking his life.


A person must recognize that his makeup, and events that contribute to his successes and status are completely outside of his control, for the most part. This realization will offer a person a true appreciation for how little he contributes to his success and his innate abilities. And when a person possesses no false arrogance for his intelligence and his successes, he will identify with others. He will see them as equal expressions of God’s will. In this manner, he will not view them as “lesser” souls, with whom it is not “appropriate” to associate. He will in fact see them as deserving as good a life as himself, and he will treat them as God wills…as equals.