Is humility just a glorified way of referring to someone with low self-esteem?
In this week’s Parasha Moshe is described as “exceedingly humble”, more than any other person on earth. Now, it’s true that Moshe was an accomplished man, a man of many talents. It was he whom G-d chose to be His Divine ambassador on this earth. Moshe had knowledge and he had that special gift of self-knowledge. He knew that he was talented and he prized his gifts very highly. Yet the Torah tells us he was humble. Is there a conflict here between humility and knowing one’s self-worth?
There is a difference between low self-esteem and humility. A lack of self-esteem or worth is an emotional handicap that blocks simple knowledge of oneself and of one’s abilities. It prevents a person from seizing opportunities and achieving the most out of life. Genuine humility, on the other hand, is predicated on the clarity of thinking and knowing. It means knowing that you are gifted in a certain area but understanding the full extent that one’s abilities are given to him by G-d. It’s a confidence that is based upon one’s faith in G-d and in oneself. What made Moshe the humblest person was the fact he knew, more clearly than anyone else, the full extent to which his abilities were given to him by G-d. Because a humble person does not hide themselves or their talents. Rather, they can express them with their deepest knowledge and gratitude and utilise them to impact positively upon all those around them.
Wishing you and yours a Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Friedman