Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
One of the most interesting verses in the Torah occurs in this week’s parasha: “Now this man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth”. How could the greatest person who ever lived, who reached the highest level, also be the humblest person who ever lived?
This is how Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains the humility of Moshe and the message which it contains:
“Many people think that the meaning of humility is low self-esteem. But true humility is the awareness that we are standing in the presence of greatness. Humility is a language in which the ‘I’ is silent so that I can hear the ‘Thou’. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.
Within human beings there is a strong pulsating need for recognition. Over the years, we have even come to believe: ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’. But true humility does not need recognition. True humility flows from the belief that under the surface of the universe there is a presence that acknowledges us, loves us and watches over all our actions. This is the knowledge that we are fulfilling a task in a master plan that is many times greater than ourselves. Humility such as this is an enormous source of power. Because when we do not think so much about the ‘I’, we are not hurt by words of criticism or disparagement. This is not just a good character trait, it’s a perception of reality. This is not a diminishment of your value, but simply an awareness of the value of others. That’s how Moshe acted. A humble person is someone who does not think about himself simply because he has more important things to think about.”