talents is not humble. He is deceiving himself.An 'anav' [humble person] can know preciselywho he is.There is a famous story which illustrates thispoint. Rav Chatzkel Abramsky, zt"l, once neededto testify in a case in which the Beis Din of London was sued by a shochet [ritualslaughterer] who had been fired. As the head of the Beis Din, Rav Abramsky had no choice, butto testify in secular court. His attorney asked himto state his name and his position. The attorneythen asked, "Is it true that you are the greatestliving halachic authority on the Europeancontinent?" Rav Abramsky said, "Yes. That istrue."At that point the judge interjected and said,"Rabbi Abramsky, is that not rather haughty onyour part? I thought that your laws and ethicsteach you to be humble." Without any hesitation,Rav Abramsky responded, "I know we are taughtto be humble. But I am under oath."The point of this story is that Rav ChatzkelAbramsky was aware that he was the greatestliving halachic authority on the Europeancontinent. Recognition of his true status was nothaughtiness.Rav Moshe Feinstein did not consider himself "an ignoramus". He knew that he was the posek [halachik authority] of his generation.Nevertheless, he was an extremely humbleperson.
26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100 Shabbat Announcements Parshat Shmini-Parah 5771
What then is the key to humility? The key tohumility is to remember that whatever a personhas and is, is a gift from Heaven. "It is not mystrength and the power of my hand that haswrought me this great wealth" It is not mybrains. It is not my talents. It is not innate. It isall a blessing from G-d." A person remainshumble by realizing and remembering that allof his achievements in this world are onlythrough the good graces of G-d, and that he canlose them at any minute, G-d forbid.There is a famous Mishneh at the end of Maseches Sotah that states that when Rebbi(Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, the editor of theMishneh) died, humility ceased. Rav Yosef inthe Gemara questions this Mishneh and saysthat it could not possibly be accurate "For I amhere". This comment of Rav Yosef begs forclarification.I once heard a beautiful homiletic interpretationof this Talmudic passage. Rav Yosef was notsaying, "I am humble. Therefore there arehumble people around." He was sayingsomething else. We learn elsewhere that RavYosef became blind. When he became blind, heforgot all his learning. This great Amora, RavYosef, whose opinion is found on so many folioof Shas, who learned so much, who taught somuch -- this same Rav Yosef forgot it all afterhis illness.Rav Yosef is saying is the following: Do notsay that there cannot be humble people aroundanymore -- because I am around. As long as Iam around, people can look at me and see whatcan happen to a person. Let them see that aperson can be an Amora, know all of theMishnayos, have hundreds of students and yetforget it all. If people bear that in mind, thenthere can still be humble people. For the key tohumility is realizing that everything is a giftthat can be lost at any time.
Great Neck SynagogueShabbat Activities Program
Dale Polakoff, RabbiIan Lichter, Assistant RabbiDr. Ephraim Wolf ,z”l, Rabbi EmeritusMichael Bleicher, Daniel Schwechter, Rabbinic InternsZeev Kron, CantorEleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor EmeritusMark Twersky, Executive DirectorJoseph Hecht, PresidentHarold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board