Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

How I stay humble

Here are some ideas that you might be able to use for yourself or could inspire you. I sometimes meet people who think that I’m really not humble. I found out that they project their feelings on me. They are never the humble people I could learn from to be even more humble.

My humble rabbi explained that being humble doesn’t mean that you think you’re a nobody. Rather, it means that you don’t use your excellence to get privileges. I remember once, that we needed to take the bus home and there was no place for me on the big bus. In half an hour, a smaller bus would come to pick up those left behind. I tried to convince the single young adults (half my age) to let me on the first bus because I needed to get home quickly to release our baby sitter, but no one budged. There was a supervising rabbi on the bus who I thought would rebuke them. Instead, he got out and said: take my place, please. I did and I was so impressed.

I met so many amazing people that it’s easy in comparison to stay humble. In fact, already when I was young, I found everyone else amazing.

I set out in life as extremely shy and a tremendously good listener. I developed the courage to be the life of the party and to talk. But I’m still, basically the same shy guy. And shy doesn’t jive with arrogant.

I’m a happy camper and you can’t be haughty and happy at the same time.

My father grew up poor. He “escaped” by being smart through no success of his own. He became a physician. His parents who had helped him were murdered in the Holocaust so he felt he owed them. He despised snobs. Sometimes there was a party of colleagues he had to go to at one of those villas with a piece of garden followed by forest. Returning he would whisper: “not a book in the bookcase.” Trade union leaders for their yearly checkup went especially to him because he was friendly. A good example!

I repeated to myself for decades: I will always remember that I’m but a drip on the ocean, a speck of dust in the universe.

I remember realizing that no one came to this life with the sole objective of making me happy. Everyone has the right to have higher priorities than me. At the same time, I try to be generous with the most precious thing I have: time, since I like to live in a generous world. As the last Rabbi of Lubavitch told me: The best way to receive happens when you give.

I heard from my rabbi that religious people know that they are obligated and so worry if they are living up to their potential. Any talent one has is a humbling obligation, not an asset to brag about. That helps. Whenever I succeeded in something, I remember how hard I worked for it which gives humble pride, or how little I did for it which erases any credit I could claim.

I like to imitate Inspector Columbo. Snobs don’t like my humble appearance so they avoid me. So their snobbism doesn’t rub off on me.

For half a century, I was convinced that I was stupid — like an anorexic person may see themselves as fat. I reasoned that my thinking was always so slow, not compared to others but to how fast I wanted it to go.

I don’t try to be extremely humble since I don’t need to camouflage being so great. So, I have no trouble quoting someone who calls me the greatest relationship therapist ever.

I pay attention to how G^d constantly makes fun of my attempts to do things perfectly. It’s hard to feel too important when you constantly lack the time and money to do all the things that you see the world is lacking.

I moved to Israel (when the owner of a factory wears jeans at work) and became part of a Mizrachic congregation (where warmth tops formality). Yet, some rabbis there seem so arrogant that they’d never make it in Ashkenazic circles. But the outside doesn’t always reveal the inside. One of them seems very arrogant but he prepares his lectures meticulously. That shows a lot of respect for his students and reveals his true humbleness.

I have much talent for doubt and I’m honest, so how could I be cocksure?

So, some of it is given, some circumstantial and some from my own effort.

My main reward is having been able to raise humble kids. That’s a lot!

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
Related Topics
Related Posts