False modesty is characterized by feelings of insignificance and inadequacy, and inactivity to the extent of not venturing to say a loud word or take a step forward. That modesty is a weakness, not a virtue.
The Torah ideal of humility is poles apart. Was not Moshe, the greatest person of action, at the same time the most humble of all people?
In the highest selflessness lies the greatest power. Ultimately, neglect of duty is due to selfishness. Because of selfishness we omit the good and commit the bad. Selfishness makes us shrink from the fulfillment of our life-task.
The humble person with integrity has no trace of selfishness. His self-sacrifice is not obstructed by egoism. He is always ready to use the last spark of his energy and the last fiber of his being in doing good. He feels he has been granted life only for the fulfillment of good. When he has departed from this world, one may say of him: He was alive!
(Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Wisdom of Proverbs, pp.200-1;
Gateway to Happiness, p.126)
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Rabbi Zelig Pliskin is the author of 25 books with his specialty in mastering happiness and other positive inner resources.
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