Yechezkel Perek 28-29

In perek 28 and 29, Yechezkel admonishes the leaders of both Tzor and Egypt for being arrogant and haughty. This rebuke highlights the importance of humility. The Gemara[1] notes that since Moshe humbled himself before Hashem, the entire Torah was named after him; “Toras Moshe”. In addition, the Gemara in Chullin[2] lists leaders of Bnei Yisrael who were humble, and we know that Har Sinai was chosen as the venue for Matan Torah because of its humility. It seems that greatness, leadership, and humility go hand in hand. In his celebrated letter, the Ramban even calls humility ‘The best of all the good traits.’ Why is humility so important?

The Maharal[3] writes that humility is a prerequisite for accepting Torah properly. Since Torah is non-tangible and non-physical, only someone who has made himself non-physical can receive it. Acquiring the trait of humility nullifies one’s ego and defines himself less as a physical being. In addition, a haughty person places limits on himself by defining himself with his achievements, talents, or possessions. A humble person does not set limits on himself, which makes him a fitting vessel to receive Hashem’s limitless shefa (influence or assistance) via His Torah.

There is a further reason why the trait of humility is so central. To do the concept no justice and put it in brief, our task in this world is to glorify Hashem and reflect Him in our lives. The biggest potential obstacle to this task is none other than ourselves. It is tempting and gratifying (in the short-term) to glorify oneself and massage one’s ego instead of using oneself as a tool to give honor to Hashem. Consequently, the trait of humility is central in that only a humble person, who does not glorify himself, can truly and genuinely reflect Hashem in his everyday actions.

[1] Gemara Shabbos

[2] Chullin 89a

[3] Maharal Nesivos Olam, Netiv Hatorah