Talmud Taanis 20: A Person should always be soft like a reed and not stiff like a cedar. There was a story with Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Shimon who was coming from Migdal Gedor from the house of his Rabbi, and he was riding on a donkey and traveling on the edge of the river, and was exceedingly happy, and he was feeling aloof because he had studied much Torah. He chanced upon a man who was very ugly. The man said to him: Peace be upon you, my teacher! [Rabbi Eliezer] did not respond, instead he said: Empty one! How ugly is that person! Perhaps all the people of your city are this ugly? He answered: I don’t know, rather go and tell the Craftsman who made me – how ugly is the vessel that You made. Once he realized that he sinned, he descended from his donkey and prostrated himself before him and said: please forgive me. He responded: I will not forgive you until you go to the Craftsman who made me and tell him – how ugly is the vessel that you made![Rabbi Eliezer] followed him until they arrived at his city. The people of the city went out to greet him and said: Peace unto you Rebbe, Rebbe, master, master! The ugly man asked: to whom are you calling, Rebbe, Rebbe? They said – to the man who is trailing you? He said – If this is a Rabbi, may there not be many like him in Israel. The people of the city inquired why not? He recounted the entire story. They persisted and said, despite this, forgive him because he is great in Torah, He said – for you I will forgive him provided that he does not regulate himself in behaving such. Rabbi Eliezer immediately entered the house of study and taught: A Person should always be soft like a reed and not stiff like a cedar. And therefore a reed merited that a quill is made from it to write Torah scrolls, Tefillin and Mezuzahs.
*Temple Beth Torah 4/26/2015