Monday, January 23, 2006

Hallmarks of Humility

A lesson in humility from the Torah and Talmud:
Chovos Ha-levvavos (Sha’ar Ha-kneiah 7) writes that there are five traits through which one can recognize the truly humble: 1) He controls his anger even when he is treated disrespectfully. 2) If something bad befalls him (R”l), monetarily, or something bad happens to him or a family member, he remains calm and quiet and doesn’t lose his cool, understanding that everything comes from Hashem. 3) He is unaffected by others’ praise, thinking to himself, “Even if what they say is true, were they aware of my sins and shortcomings, they would realize that the little bit of good they praise doesn’t even begin to make up for my lack of true dedication to Hashem.” If someone insults him, even if the insult happens not to be true, he thinks to himself, “Perhaps he is mistaken, and in fact I am not at fault with regard to what he accuses me of, but I’d better stay quiet lest he find out the far-worse faults he hasn’t yet discovered!” 4) If Hashem blesses him with wisdom, wealth, honour, or any other blessings, which usually cause their recipients to become arrogant, he remains simple and humble, realizing that his blessings are the gift of Hashem, and not a result of his own prowess or merit. 5) He constantly rebukes himself and looks for ways to improve his dedication to Torah and mitzvos.
I try, Lord. I try. Goodness knows I have a lot to be humble about....

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