Kenneth Cohen

Humility and Greatness

The Rambam describes how a person can come to love and fear Hashem. When one ponders the universe, and witnesses the incredible brilliance in all of creation, he comes to realize how huge and powerful G-d is, and the smallness of man.

This realization brings man the understanding of his own vulnerability. He will acquire fear of Hashem as he will be in awe of the Al-mighty. He will also come to love Him, as the Rambam defines love as desiring a connection with Hashem. He will want to learn more and more about the One true G-d.

These realizations should have the effect of increasing humility in every individual. There is a direct correlation between greatness and humility. The greater the person, the more humble he is. When one is arrogant, he demonstrates his own smallness.

Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest man that ever lived, and he was the most humble. The Ketav Sofer wrote Moshe’s humility was tested when he was accused by his sister, Miriam, of being arrogant. Why did he think that he was so great that he was allowed to separate from his wife, when all other prophets resumed family life.

He showed his true humility when he chose not to answer. Had he tried to defend himself, it would have made him look arrogant. Despite the claims made against him, nothing would change him from being exceedingly humble.

This was also true when Moshe came down the mountain after forty days, when he did not eat or drink. He remained the same humble Moshe even though he achieved what no man ever had.

It all came down to that simple realization about G-d. No matter what man was capable of achieving in this world, it still does not come close to the greatness of Hashem. This is the key to spiritual growth when we are able to soar. This is because we are not weighted down by our arrogance and pettiness and materialism. True humility is the foundation toward achieving great things in this world.

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