web analytics
December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



A Humbling Lesson (Part I)

It would follow that humility means not judging ourselves in comparison with others, but in accord with our own personal capabilities and the tasks we believe God has allocated for us.
Rabbi Hanoch Teller

There is only one virtue explicitly ascribed to Moshe: “Now Moshe was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth” (Numbers 12:3). That this is the only virtue the Torah attributes to its greatest hero is itself the most significant indication of the importance Judaism places upon humility.

Why is it that Moshe, the one who would seemingly be the most likely candidate to revel in fame and popularity, was the most humble? Most men who see their names in volumes and journals far less significant – infinitely less significant – than the Bible seem to have no check on their ego. And yet Moshe, the most famous man, was also the most humble.

This is because if one measures oneself against the infinite and eternal Creator, he understands his own relative insignificance. Thus precisely because Moshe achieved such a tangible closeness to God was he more humble than any man to have walked the earth.

“One’s greatness as a person depends,” explains Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer, “on the degree to which one can truly perceive his Creator’s presence and make this ultimate yardstick a reality for himself.” Consequently arrogant people are that way precisely because they judge themselves not in relationship to God, but in contrast to those who are less accomplished.

A scientific interpretation might also be offered to explain Moshe’s humility. Plants are endowed with a mechanism that causes them to bend toward light. Known as phototropism, the explanation can get more technical regarding auxins, elongated cells and external stimuli – but the essence is that no matter which direction a plant is pointing, it will always bend toward the source of light.

Because Moshe was so connected to the “Source,” the influence was overwhelming. God’s presence worked as axiomatically on Moshe’s self-image as light does to an organism. Because Moshe was so close to the Almighty and so cognizant of His greatness, that his own self-image, in contrast, was infinitesimally miniscule. Others, not blessed with Moshe’s awareness, feel a far greater distance from the Source, yet feel neither overwhelmed nor any other impingement upon their self-image.

It would follow that humility means not judging ourselves in comparison with others, but in accord with our own personal capabilities and the tasks we believe God has allocated for us. This was well articulated by Rabbi Yisroel Salanter: “I know that I have the mental capacity of a thousand men, but because of that, my obligation is also that of a thousand men.”

Such a perspective, as Rabbi Joseph Telushkin elaborates, teaches that the very capabilities that can make a person most proud are also those that should be the most humbling. If we are endowed with significant wisdom, then we also have a greater responsibility to bring others to wisdom. If we have wealth, then we have a greater responsibility to help those in need. If we occupy a position of power, we have a greater obligation to help the oppressed. Thinking about how much we can do in comparison to what we have done serves as a corrective against pride and arrogance.

Thus says the Orchos Tzaddikim, “All of the good things I do are but a drop in the ocean in comparison to what I ought to do.” There was a cinematic portrayal of this lesson in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film, “Schindler’s List.”

The movie relates how Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler saved close to 1,200 Jews from extermination. When the members of Schindler’s List were liberated, the former prisoners schemed as to what gesture they could afford to express to their benefactor in terms of their gratitude. As impoverished former slaves, they were bereft of any financial means.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “A Humbling Lesson (Part I)”

  1. So enjoyed part (1)

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
funny rocket joke
Israel Retaliates: Hits Terror Tunnel Cement Factory
Latest Judaism Stories
Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Exploring the connection between Pharaoh’s dreams and the story of Joseph being sold into slavery.

More Articles from Rabbi Hanoch Teller
Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

A humble person who achieves a position of prominence will utilize the standing to benefit others.

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

Thinking about how much we can do in comparison to what we have done serves as a corrective against pride and arrogance.

Separating fun from happiness can liberate, regarding (a) time, (b) money and (c) jealousy.

People expectantly go through their lives awaiting the event that will make them happy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/chodesh-tov/a-humbling-lesson-part-i/2014/06/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: