Askmoses-A Jews Resource
Why the difference between the morning hand washing, and before eating bread?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.


Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

What is the difference between humility and low self confidence?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Philosophy » Character | Subscribe | What is RSS?


PRINT EMAIL COMMENT

1 Question:

I have gathered that a Jew should strive to be humble, is that correct? What about self-pride, taking care of oneself and looking after oneself? How do you find a balance between being humble and totally devoted to others' wellbeing, without sacrificing your own self-love, self-pride, self-esteem?

Answer:

The Torah tells us2 that "the man Moses was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth." However we also know that Moses wasn't a meek personality. When Korach initiated a rebellion against Moses, Humble Moses didn't say "you know you're right, you most probably are more deserving than me. Why don't you become the new leader?" Instead he turned to G-d and said,3 "Do not turn to [Korach party's] offering." Moses was even known to stand up to G-d more than once.4 This is not what you would expect from Mr. Humble!

In Tractate Sotah5 the Mishnah says, "when Rabbi [Yehudah the Prince] passed away, humility ceased.” On this Rabbi Yosef said, "Don't say [that] humility [ceased], for there is me!"

True humility is recognizing that all the qualities that you posses are only a gift from G-d, and everything that you accomplish is due to those G-d given qualities. It is, therefore, foolish to consider yourself superior to someone who is less talented or has accomplished less
Being humble does not require you to erroneously believe that you are without any talents. Not knowing your own abilities and strengths is not humility, it is foolishness. True humility is recognizing that all the qualities that you posses are only a gift from G-d, and everything that you accomplish is due to those G-d given qualities. It is, therefore, foolish to consider yourself superior to someone who is less talented or has accomplished less.

Moses knew that he was the only one with the capability to lead the Jewish People; therefore he fiercely resisted Korach's attempted coup. But Moses realized that his talents came from G-d, and he was humble because he believed that had G-d given the same talents to someone else, perhaps they would have been more fully utilized.

The Talmud tells us,6 that every individual is obligated to say "the world was created just for me." We must be humble. But we must also realize that we have the incredible - G-d given - ability to transform this world into a divine dwelling place. Indeed the whole world was created for this purpose, for each and every one of us to come in to the world and do a Mitzvah, illuminating the darkness with holiness and light.

Chassidut explains that the word "olam (world)" has the same root as the word "helem (concealment)," for the world is a place where the G-dly truth is hidden. But every person must say "the world - concealment - was created for me," G-d concealed Himself so that I should come along and reveal Him.

Many confuse humility with meekness. In truth, the humble person is very driven and will not stomach any opposition. But he is not driven by his own ego, he is driven by a desire to give nachas to G-d.

Footnotes

  • 1. 49b.
  • 2. Numbers 12:3.
  • 3. Numbers 16:15.
  • 4. See, for example, Exodus 3:11, 32:32.
  • 5. 49a.
  • 6. Sanhedrin 37a.
TAGS: humility

ADD A COMMENT

Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).
Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Chassidut
The teachings of the Chassidic masters. Chassidut takes mystical concepts such as G-d, the soul, and Torah, and makes them understandable, applicable and practical.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Korach
Cousin of Moses, he led an uprising against him, objecting to the appointment of Aaron as High Priest. He and his followers were miraculously swallowed up by the earth.
Sotah
A woman suspected of adultery, with probable cause. She is taken to the Holy Temple and given a potion which causes her death if she is guilty of the sin.
Mishnah
First written rendition of the Oral Law which G-d spoke to Moses. Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna in the 2nd century lest the Oral law be forgotten due to the hardships of the Jewish exiles.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.