ב סיון תשס''ב
בס"ד
 
וידבר יי אל-מושה לאמור:  דבר אל-בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם איש או אישה כי יפלה לנדר נדר נזיר להזיר לה:  מיין ושכר יזיר חמץ יין וחמץ שכר לא ישתה וכל-משרת ענבים לא ישתה וענבים לחים ויבשים לא יאכל... והקריב הכהן לפני ה ועשה את-חטאתו ואת-עלתו
 
And יי spoke to משה, saying, Speak to בני ישראל, and say to them, When either man or woman shall pronounce a special vow of a נזיר to seperate themselves to Adonai: he shall abstain from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, nor shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.... And the כהן shall bring them before יי, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering.  (במדבר ו'' א-ג,טז)
 
In this פסק, we see two conflicting concepts.  First, there is the נדר נדר נזיר - which we know from the repitition of the term נדר has a special connotation.  Secondly, we are told that upon the completion of the נדר, the former נזיר must bring both a חטא and an עלת offering.   Why does one who has taken a נדר in the service of יי need to bring חטא and טלת offerings?  One answer may be gleaned from ספר קהלת 7:16  which says אל-תהי צדיק הרבה,  "do not be overly righteous."  What we learn from this, which our חכמים זצ"ל have taught, is that if one abstains from that which is permitted, one is comminting an עברה.  This paradox is the perfect example of how one should perfect their מידות.
 
We learn from הרמב''ם זצוק''ל in his opus, היד החזקה that the proper place for man to be, with regard to מידות is as follows:
הדרך הישרה--הי מידה בינונית שבכל דעה ודעה, מכל דעות שיש לו לאדם; והי הדעה שהיא רחוקה משני הקצוות ריחוק שווה, ואינה קרובה לא לזו ולא לזו
The path that is upright: it is the characteristic between the extreme traits possessed by man.  It is the trait that lies in the middle of the two extremes, neither close to one nor the other.  (הלכות דעות א''ה)
 
The purpose of following this upright path is to fulfil the first מצוה עשה listed in הלכות דעות: להידמות בדרכיו - namely to imitate His ways.  Why should humans pattern themselves after the ways of יי?  We do so because when He fashioned us, He did so in His image, as it says: ויברא אל*הים את-האדם בצלמו - and God created אדם in His image.  (בראשית א''כז)
 
In the מורה נבוחים, our master, משה בן מימון states, "The term צלם, on the other hand, signifies the specific form, viz, that which constitutes the essence of a thing, whereby that thing is what it is; the reality of a thing in so far as it is that particular being."  According to the מידרש תימנית, אלוגיז שלמוגני, the concept of צלם אל*הים refers to a spiritual perception of יי יתברך.  Via these two references, we can infer that actions taken against or for another human being also reflect as actions taken against or for יי.
 
Given the repercussions of our actions, we should always strive to be pious.  רבינו יהודה הלוי defines a חסיד with the following terms (ספר הכוזרי שער חמישי): "He wrongs no one nor does he favor anyone... A pious man controls his desires, giving himself enough to satisfy his needs for food, drink, cleanliness, in moderation, abstaining from excess... He subdues any innate aggressiveness but allows himself sufficient spirit to participate in intellectual or scientific debates, and to admonish evil-minded people...He does not use any of his limbs or facilities to excess nor does he violate their specific fucntions."
 
Here, we see an example of what was handed down by רמב''ם in the משנה תורה - the practice of walking between the extremes of any given trait.  Like the נזיר, the חסיד takes on any  חומרות that may be needed in his service of  יי,  such as taking percautions that help him avoid "pet sins."  However, unlike the נזיר, the חסיד does not abstain from that which is not forbidden to him, which, we have learned, constitutes an עברה.
 
For guidance, in this matter, let us consult the great מוסר work, ארחות צדיקים, which outlines all the traits posessed by men and addresses their role in our relations with others.  The "positive" traits, which we are to embrace are enumerated as follows: humility, shame, love, mercy, joy, worry, regret, willingness, zeal, magnanimity, rememberance, silence, truth, Tora, the fear of Heaven, and repentance.  These are the traits which we must embrace when performing מצוות and in dealings with most people.  However, there are times, such as when dealing with רשעום that one must often embrace a harsher stance - these are the "negative" traits, and include pride, arrogance, hatred, cruelty, anger, envy, miserliness, and forgetfulness.  This merely scratches the surface, but a little logic and a lot of common sense can dictate when one needs to cultivate which traits.  For example, one should embrace humility before יי and before those one is obligated ךיכבוד.  One should, however, be prideful before the scoffers, so that one does not abase ones self before them and acqueisce to their ways.
 
As this year, שבועת coincides with שבת פרשת משא, I wish to leave you with these words in closing: as we celebrate מתן תורתמו and accept the תורה anew, let us not forget to maintain a balanced way of life.  May יי keep us on the proper path, הדרך הישר, free from indulgence, but also free from חומרות that are not neccessary and lead us into the act of עשה מצוה מעברה - the performance of a מצוה via an act of עון.
 
כל טוב, שבת שלום, וחג השבועת סמח
טזכו לשנים רבות
שמריהו ישראל בן אברהם אבינו