Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Many years ago, sitting in Rav Hershel Schachter’s shiur in YU, I heard him compare the moment Hashem gave the Torah to us in a thunderous revelation on Har Sinai with the moment we received the intact luchos several months later on Yom Kippur.

The origin of the first luchos was the grand ceremony that we celebrated on Shavuos. Yet when Moshe descends on Shiva Asar B’Tammuz after 40 days in Heaven, he smashes them. The luchos that would guide us through the desert, into Eretz Yisroel and beyond, were the second set that was given b’tzina, in private, without the pomp and circumstance. The lesson, I believe, is that in general it is our modesty and private actions that make a lasting difference.

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I’ve been fortunate to learn from leaders (both Jewish and non-Jewish) that embody Hashem’s ways – giving people a second chance, trusting their followers by leading from behind by not constantly showing themselves or micromanaging employees’ daily lives.

While humility and modesty are prized characteristics in our community, these traits can impede us during our job search. We may downplay our strengths to those we network and interview with, or not even apply to certain roles because we feel we lack just one or two of the items they list as preferred in the job description. Here’s an alternative perspective for those who are compiling their resumes, applying for jobs, or preparing to extol their own virtues. It derives from the song (loosely based on Sotah 5a and Medrash Tehillim 68:17) that my three-year-old sang so beautifully 40 days ago:

Little Har Sinai just stood there and sighed, “I know I’m not tall, I’m not wide. The Torah cannot be given on me, Because I’m a plain mountain,” she said simply.

But from the mountains Hashem chose Har Sinai, Because she did not hold herself high. She had such simple and humble ways, From this we know that humbleness pays.

If teaching humility was so important, why didn’t Hashem give the Torah in a valley? The Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, taught that choosing a mountain that is lower than other mountains indicates a need for a combination of the virtues of humility and pride together; the choice of a mountain instead of a plain or a valley indicates the need for a certain degree of self-esteem. For both these qualities are necessary to our acquisition of Torah.

It seems that our self-esteem must moderate our humility and that the most impact can be made when proclaiming from on high. In the job search and especially at interviews, we need to confidently shout our achievements from the rooftop and not assume that our future employer has spent much time looking at our resume or is somehow “all-knowing” about our past achievements and future aspirations.

So let’s learn from Har Sinai and from the Jews who actively prepared for Kabbolas HaTorah. While Har Sinai’s honesty is commendable, and the things she lacked not directly within her control, we cannot expect that our lack of virtues will get us an interview for a coveted role. Au contraire, we must identify what features we lack, work on them, and prepare to highlight our key virtues so we can progress to the next stage.

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Rabbi Daniel Coleman, MBA, is sought after for his creative and strategic approach to career preparedness, transitions, and success. In addition to presenting to high school groups on career/financial preparedness, Daniel coaches college-bound students on navigating the admission process and crafting an excellent application. He is a popular scholar in residence in communities across America and beyond. Connect with him at coleman4coaching@gmail.com or on LinkedIn.