Categories Humility , Category Overview 

The value of anavah, or humility, often is described as one of the most important values within Jewish tradition, particularly for those in positions of leadership. Humility may often be construed as having a lack of self-esteem or even being unassertive. However, the value of anavah best can be understood as excessive pride. Moses, who is described as the “most humble man of them all,” fell short of his reputation when his ego led him to being banned from entering the Promised Land.

Humility is a matter of perspective, it is an understanding that our own greatness emerges when we recognize how we as individuals fit within in the larger community. One who is humble understands the importance of placing other’s needs before his or her own. Our own contributions, talents, and gifts are essential to our roles within the community, but one who truly possesses the quality of anavah needs no recognition, aims for any attention to be drawn away from him or herself, and lives without concern of what others think of them.

It was the Hasidic sage Rabbi Simha Bunim of Przysucha who taught: “Every person should have two pockets so he can reach into one or the other, according to his needs. In his right pocket are to be the words: “For my sake was the world created,” and in his left: “I am earth and ashes.”” Our true greatness, then, emerges when we are able to discover the balance between arrogance and self-degradation. For we should embrace our greatness, but remain aware that to be great, we must temper our pride.

Questions For Reflection:

  1. Think of a modern example of an individual who possesses the value of anavah. What actions demonstrate that they display humility? What can you learn from his or her example?
  2. An aspect of anavah is developing an awareness of ourselves so that we may try to refrain from behaving too haughty. What are some strategies you think you practice to develop this type of awareness?
  3. Refer to the Rabbi Simha Bunim of Przysucha quote. If you were to write something in your right pocket, what would it be? If you were to write something in your left pocket what would it be?
  4. How can you incorporate the value of anavah within your classroom?



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