Jewish sources continuously promote humility. Our sages ask us to "be humble before everyone." The Torah praises Moses, highlighting his great humility. What is the definition of humility?

Humility is often erroneously associated with feelings of:

  • nothingness
  • self-negation
  • inferiority
  • unworthiness
  • being undeserving

Feelings of nothingness lead to insecurity, and insecurity leads to arroganceHowever in truth, the consequence of these attitudes is not humility. On the contrary, feelings of nothingness lead to insecurity, and insecurity leads to arrogance. An insecure person is threatened by the views and perceptions of others, and needs to convince himself and others that he is worthy of approval. False humility brings egocentricity and self-absorption.

Real humility comes together with a healthy self-esteem and sense of self. The humble person is fully aware of who he is. He acknowledges his talents, strengths and weaknesses. The humble individual feels safe with his identity and is confident and secure. It is specifically this feeling of inner safety that allows him to:

  • make space for others
  • understand that his strengths are G‑d given and do not make him better than anyone else
  • feel secure enough with himself to understand another point of view with tolerance and respect
  • be discreet about his achievements without the need for great publicity

Moses was fully aware that he was the leader of the Jewish nation and the greatest prophet. When he needed to, he was strong and stood up with confidence to tremendous challenges. At the same time he was more humble than anyone else. He did not feel superior and treated everyone, small or great, with respect.

Insecurity and feelings of lowliness breed arrogance. A healthy sense of self brings humility.