With the Book of Exodus we encounter the people of Israel — not individuals like the Patriarchs, unique if not lonely in their faith, but an entire community, a nation. Throughout the rest of the Pentateuch, the dominant figure is Moses, who in today's Torah portion is charged with taking his people from slavery to G‑d's service.

G‑d's first revelation to Moses was at the burning bush. "An angel of G‑d appeared to him in a flame of fire from a thorn-bush; the thorn-bush was burning with fire but was not consumed." The details of this revelation are an intriguing and inexhaustible source of interpretations. There is obviously a symbolic besides a literal significance to the account.

G‑d does not reveal Himself to the arrogant, the self-styled importantThe thorn-bush is a lowly, inconspicuous plant, and it was chosen rather than the impressive cedar for the revelation. In terms of the individual, G‑d does not reveal Himself to the arrogant, the self-styled important. And this arrogance is not necessarily the extreme and repulsive kind. It can seem quite innocent and still be fatal to the spirit. It is complacency, a serene feeling of contentedness with what one is, the assurance that one has done his duty by G‑d and can with equanimity await an appropriate and generous reward from a grateful Creator.

"I must turn aside (from here to approach there)," says Moses when he sees the burning bush.1 For one to deserve and appreciate a revelation, a feeling of G‑dliness, a taste of what religion and faith can really be — for this the requisite is discontent, a turning, an urge to growth, a dissatisfaction with one's spiritual status quo.

This might be a definition of humility — awareness that one has not achieved what he can, that the unachieved overshadows the accomplished.