Looking Down Our Noses At Moses
David Levine wrote:
G-d willing, I hope to buy my son his bar-mitzvah tefillin. The price for a "good" pair is $500-$800. I noticed that one can get numerous stringencies and "hidurrim" in the teffilin, with each extra "hidur" adding to the price. I hope to get him the best, but I was wondering if in the past they kept all these stringencies? It seems that some "extras" are only available today with our technology and manufacturing methods, and that it wasn't possible to produce this quality of teffilin in the past. If so, then do we have to be more machmir (strict) than Moshe Rabeinu?
Dear David Levine,
I once heard a story about a renowned Rabbi. One year in preparation for Succot, he bought three etrogim, even though the mitzvah requires only one. He did this in order to fulfill all of the different opinions regarding exactly what constitutes a valid etrog. Seeing this, his wife commented, "My father didn't have three etrogim." Answered the Rabbi, "Your father also didn't own three suits. If I can afford three suits, I can also afford three etrogim."
This doesn't put us on a higher spiritual level; previous generations did the best that they could with their available resources, and we do the best that we can with ours. The point is not to compare yourself with others, but to do your best with whatever G-d has given you.