Kenneth Cohen

Acquiring Humility

The Messilat Yesharim describes humility as one of the highest character traits that a person can possess.

The author, Rav Moshe Chaim Lutzatto, gives directions as to how to achieve true humility. He breaks this down into two major areas. There is Anava, (Hebrew for humility) in outlook and Anava in conduct, which is a humble manner of behavior.

Anava in outlook reminds a person of his own deficiencies. Every person has limited talents, and he is expected to use those talents to the best of his ability. He must remind himself of the lowly state of earthly creatures. And also be reminded the puniness of our accomplishments compared to earlier generations.

Anava in conduct consists of humble comportment in four areas: generally behaving in an unassuming manner-in one’s manner of speech, walking, and similar things. Tolerating insults shows humility, as does fleeing from honor. And finally, the humble person is careful to treat everyone with respect.

These are some of the tips given in Messilat Yesharim. It also that we never forget our own mortality and vulnerability.

We must remember that greatness and true humility go together. The greater the person, the more humble he is. And this is exactly why Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest person whoever lived.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at