BUILDING A REPUTATION ­ Article ­ BINA

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BUILDING A REPUTATION

by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

This coming Sunday is a special day in the Jewish calendar. It is known as Lag Ba'omer, the day that marks the passing of the great Talmudic sage and mystic, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. This second century Rabbi and Kabbalist requested that the day of his passing should be marked with happiness and celebration.
 
It is an opportune time to explore his teachings.  One of them recorded in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers):
 
Rabbi Shimon would say: There are three crowns--the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of sovereignty--but the crown of good name surmounts them all.
 
A crown is symbol of beauty and a mark of distinction.  The Jewish nation were given three prestigious gifts: The ability to study Torah, the honour of the priestly service in the temple and a line-up of great Jewish kings and leaders. 
 
However, the obvious question on this passage is that it concludes with four crowns (a good name) and not just three. Why did Rabbi Shimon begin by highlighting three crowns, only adding one further on?
 
Here is one explanation. A crown of a good name on its own is worthless. People that strive for reputation based on superficial success or external grandeur lose it often as quickly as they receive it. A true 'good name' is one that is based on values and morality and comes on top of a life of meaning, purpose and growth.
Rabbi Shimon begins three crowns that each represent a critical value:
 
•    Torah - the importance of education and knowledge. A life of ethics cannot exist without exploring a moral code. 
•    Priesthood - a symbol of spiritualty.  A life of meaning and purpose is one that invites a spiritual dimension into the daily routine.
•    Sovereignty - Leadership. We don't keep the journey to ourselves. We all have to become leaders, teaching and inspiring those around us.
 
When we subscribe to these basic principles, then  and only then is the  "crown of  good  reputation,"  a true  badge  of  honour  that surpasses everything  else, inspiring and motivating everyone around us.

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