There is a well-known anecdote about a young tourist visiting the home of Ludwig Van Beethoven; it seems the pretentious young woman, upon seeing Beethoven's piano, sat down and played one of the great composer's pieces. When she was finished, she stood up looking quite pleased with herself. The horrified guide closed the keyboard cover and informed the group that the week before, the world renowned pianist, Arturo Toscanini was on the same tour. He too sat at the piano bench, but he would not play Beethoven's piano. He felt he was unworthy.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. -- Romans 12:15, 16
Be proud of who you are. –Yogi tea bag
I know what you are thinking. I now get my wisdom off of tea bag tags. Next it’s fortune cookies for me. Well, the answer is no. But when I was contemplating on writing about one spectrum of misdirected humility, this tea bag tag screamed out at me….and right on time. Would it make you feel better if I told you that the tea bag was detox tea?
In recent weeks, I’ve participated in internet discussions where people have accused me of not being humble. I never claimed to be the most humble guy in the world, but they said I was arrogant. I was not consciously trying to be arrogant, but it made me look over my posts to see why people might take my words for arrogance. It came down to this...
Golda Meir once said, "Don’t be so humble; you’re not that great." Humility is a quality we love to see in others, and we try to feign in ourselves, but I'm not sure what passes as humility is actually humility.
“Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone on the face of the Earth.” (Numbers 12:2-4) It was this statement that first made me wonder if Moses did in fact write the entire text of Torah that is attributed to him.
Last week I was in Southern California, where I grew up and where my most of my family has always lived. One of my nephews had unearthed a box of old family photos that he is now copying and cataloging, including some of Jewish ancestors I can’t even identify for sure. Viewing pictures of my grandparents and parents and my own early years made for a melancholy day. My father has been gone for twelve years and my mother for seven and a half, but the photos made my sense of loss fresh. I’m an orphan. But viewing the pictures was a healthy thing too—it’s right, even if it’s sad, to remember those who’ve gone before us and how much they’ve given us. We would not be what we are without all the resources our forebears laid upon us.
Now we will discuss humility in relation to one's deeds. This [subject] has four parts to it: conducting oneself in a lowly manner; bearing disparagement; being averse to [positions of] authority and fleeing from honor; and respecting others. --Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, The Path of the Just, page 156