By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman
This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM
Moshe (Moses) was exceedingly distressed, and he said to the L-rd, "Do not accept the offering [of Korach and his cohorts]. I have not taken a donkey from a single one of them, and I have not harmed a single one of them." – Bamidbor [Numbers] 16:15
Humility was one of Moshe’s most outstanding qualities. In fact, the Torah affirms that "Moshe was exceedingly humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth." Yet, in this week’s Torah portion, Korach (Bamidbor [Numbers] 16:1- 18:32) when his leadership was contested by his scholarly and prodigious cousin Korach, Moshe responds with seemingly uncharacteristic righteous indignation. One would have expected Moshe to turn to G‑d and say, "A-lmighty, perhaps You should consider allowing Korach to assume my position - he is far more qualified than me! I am more than happy to abdicate my position to the worthier candidate!"
A proper understanding of how the Torah views humility, as discussed at length in the talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose 22th Yahrtzeit is observed this weekend (Shabbat, 3 Tammuz / June 9), will explain how Moses' reaction to Korach's uprising was not inconsistent with his exceptional humbleness.
True humility is not a result of an undervaluation of one's talents and accomplishments. Such is a false humility, for it is built on a false foundation. Rather, the truly humble individual is keenly aware of all his strengths and qualities - but simultaneously recognizes that all these talents are G‑d-given, and therefore do not constitute a reason to feel superior to another whom G‑d has not bequeathed such talents. "Perhaps," the humble person thinks, "if that person had been blessed with the same gifts, he would have accomplished the same as me - or perhaps even more!"
Moshe recognized that G‑d had endowed him with tremendous leadership qualities, and he therefore absolutely rejected the notion of relinquishing his position to anyone. This cognizance, however, did not interfere with his genuine humility and respect for every Jew.
On a deeper level, the person who is entirely devoted to fulfilling the will of his Creator is naturally egoless, because he has no personal ambition - his goal is only to further G‑d's "agenda" on this world. While arrogance is a sense of self-importance, dedication to G‑d means realizing that life isn't about the individual or what he wants, it's about serving a higher purpose. Moses, despite all his greatness, of which he was keenly aware, was a dedicated servant of G‑d. And when Korach sought to impede his fulfillment of his divinely ordained mission in life – shepherding the Jewish Nation – Moses responded by firing on all cylinders.
Many confuse humility with meekness. In truth, the humble person is very driven and will not stomach any opposition. But he is not driven by his own ego; he is driven by a desire to implement the Divine plan.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org – by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg)
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos