After Moshe was told by Hashem that his days were numbered, Moshe makes a request (27.15), that Hashem appoint a new leader in his place.
Rashi brings to light the character of our tzadikim, who, when faced with death, instead of focusing on their own needs, they take care of the needs of the tzibbur.
First of all - what exactly are a Tzaddik's needs before his death? We understand that a regular person may focus on personal estate planning, or better yet a last chance at doing teshuvah. But a Tzaddik? Teshuvah is a lofty thing even for tzaddikim, (There is an aspect of teshuvah that is not limited to sins or shortcomings) but certainly not NEEDED.
Secondly, aren't the needs of the tzibbur actually the spiritual need of the tzaddik himself? Why is doing the mitzvah of chessed and helping others considered putting his own needs to the side?
I would like to suggest the following. Without a doubt the best thing for a tzaddik to do before he leaves this world of opportunity, is to say as many words of Torah as he possibly can. Each word of Torah is worth all the mitzvos put together. The greatest investment a Tzaddik can make before he dies, is to learn one more Mishnah, one more halacha, or even just one more WORD of Torah. That would definitely be a tzaddik's greatest personal need. So, while chessed may be a great mitzvah and investment, the tzaddik's real need at that point would be Torah.
However I would like to bring this a step further. To the extent that one does chessed for his own personal growth and achievement, he is really in actuality being quite self-centered! We must understand that although it is certain that practicing chessed and dedication to others develops and improves one's personality greatly, if one does it solely for his own investment, it might not actually change him, but rather it just continues to strengthen his selfishness! We must do acts of kindness REGARDLESS of its nature to help us grow! We are to do chessed because others need it, not because WE do!
(As a side point, chessed develops one's character over time, and we may assume that at the very end of the tzaddik's life, he is not devloping and changing his character anymore.)
In a modern world of so many new Jewish (and non - Jewish) mussar books with a focus on growth and SELF - help, we tend to forget what chessed is really all about; selfLESSness.
In a similar regard, Maran often said this regarding all mitzvos. If the Torah would say that one who learns Torah will go to Gehinnom, we would still have to learn! We don't learn because of the reward, rather because our "Boss" commands us to.
That is the meaning of the great character of our Tzaddikim. They know that personally, their needs right now would be to learn Torah, but even at that very precocious time, they ignore their own needs for the needs of others!
Yehi chelkeinu imahem!ts own singular mitzvah
Posted By Dovi milstein to DRASHOS at 7/15/2017 08:54:00 PM