Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Path of the Just

Chapter 23 (Part 2)

Now on to the things we’d need to reflect on to be (and stay) humble. Recall, though, that we’re referring to being piously and deeply humble, not simply modest, unassuming, and politely non-egotistical. The sort we’re talking about is obviously a whole other order of humility -- one that touches the core and is deeply connected to our view of ourselves and our place in the universe. And it would require us to arrive at some heart-felt and even upending realization.

The first would be based on these bluntly stunning and truly upending words of Akavyah ben Mahalalel. "Know where you have come from-- a putrid drop (of semen); and where you’re going-- to a place of dust, vermin and worms; and before Whom you’re destined to give an account and reckoning-- the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He" (Pirkei Avot 3:1).

What that statement demands of us is that we take ourselves aside, realize our stark, dire albeit common mortality, our humble and abject smallness, and our utter dependence on G-d Almighty’s judgment. (To be sure, it also points out the fact that, despite our lowly origins and end, still and all G-d takes us seriously enough to reflect on the station of our souls and to give us responsibility for it; but that’s not the point at hand.)

Indeed, Ramchal asserts that taking this to heart “stifles all arrogance and helps foster (true pious) humility”, and it leaves one “abashed and mortified”. Imagine, he goes on to say, if you were “a pig-herder who (somehow) became a king”. It would be impossible for you “to become arrogant (in your new role) if you remembered your origins”. And you’d also “be humbled upon reflecting upon … (your) ultimate destiny” despite your new grandeur.

For, despite your good fortune right now, in the end you too will “return to dust and become food for worms”. “After all”, Ramchal points out, “what is your greatness in fact if you’re destined to the shame and mortification (that we all are)?”

So we’d need to take Akavyah ben Mahalalel’s words to heart if we’re to come to truly pious humility.


 

Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org

Rabbi Feldman's new book, Bachya Ibn Pakuda's The Duties of the Heart, is now available! Order Now


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

There is a Builder
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Avraham Foreshadowed Self-Sacrifice To Make Aliyah
- 5768

Living Miraculously
Rabbi Label Lam - 5766

ArtScroll

Obstacles and Opportunities
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Redefining Pleasure
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5775

Not Just A Tool
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Lesson of Avraham
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Nowhere Man
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Lech Lecha
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Cloudy Vision
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Freedom of Man
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Of Threads and Shoelaces
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

> The Mind
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

The Internal Journey
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Redefining Pleasure
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Take the Initiative!
Shlomo Katz - 5774



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information