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What is humility anyway?

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

If they would ask us for the essential quality of a leader, someone who would be followed by millions and start a true revolution in the world order, humility would probably not be the first quality that would come to mind. And yet, this is the most prominent quality of Moshe Rabbeinu.

Our sages explain that true humility is not shyness or passivity. The humble person can be a talker and a doer, but with a rare understanding that the mission, not him, must occupy center stage. The humble person certainly knows his value, but also knows that all his talents, status, and activity are merely tools given to him by God in order to fill the world with light and goodness.

Moshe Rabbeinu lives in this manner, free from ego, not full of himself. Therefore, he reaches such a high level. He understands the full potential of God's words to him and succeeds in communicating them to others, so that they are persuaded to leave Egypt, an event that changes the face of history.

On his desk in the Oval Office, President Reagan kept a small plaque with the words: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” None of us can approach the level of Moshe Rabbeinu. And yet, despite this, Moshe teaches us that it is precisely by letting go of thoughts about our own greatness, as opposed to the greatness of our mission, that we are able to accomplish a lot more in life.


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