Posted by Yitz Grossman.
A sack of gold coins was brought to the beis midrash as a present for the rabbis, and Rabbi Ami, the kohen gadol got up and grabbed the sack for himself.
If Rabbi Ami seized the sack of gold coins for the poor. We can learn from this story to what extent he had the welfare of others in mind. He was so used to doing chesed that when he saw the gold coins he immediately responded by grabbing them on behalf of others. The normal tendency is to be quick to take for oneself, and then, if there is anything left, to begrudgingly pass it on to others. Rabbi Ami had developed himself spiritually to the point where even when an opportunity for lining his own pockets arose, without hesitation he seized it for the needy. This act shows that helping others was uppermost in his thoughts.
According to the opinion that Rabbi Ami took the money for himself because of his high stature, Rabbi Ami’s deed is an important lesson in self-esteem. When you have a deep belief in positive ideals and commit yourself to accomplishing them, it is not arrogant to think that you should actively seek the wealth necessary to pursue these goals. Taking what belongs to others is wrong, but seizing an opportunity to achieve goals when it presents itself is certainly acceptable.