Shlomo Ezagui

Humility is the key in prayer

Pawel Czerwinski

Toward the end of Moses’ life, the Bible says Moses prayed and pleaded with God to allow him to enter the Holy Land of Israel. Prayer is indeed very powerful. One of the commandments of the Bible is that whenever a person feels something lacking in their life, they must turn to God and pray.

The word in Hebrew that the Bible uses to describe the prayers of Moses indicates that Moses did not feel he deserved to enter the land but was still imploring God to grant him entry.

In general, one might ask, “Why must we pray to God?” The answer is on one basic level, God Almighty “owes us” our needs. Since God made us, He is responsible for our needs, well-being, and upkeep. In particular, if we are “well-behaved” and doing all He asks us to do, we should expect the good to come automatically; when it is not coming, we can and should demand what is reasonable.

Concerning the commandment to pray, we are praying that, what God is “responsible” for giving us, be given pleasantly, and/or we are praying that He goes the extra mile on our behalf.

Moses is teaching us an additional attitude and something fundamental in praying and calling upon God.

Prayer is a hallowed time to meditate and connect with the Almighty. It is not about what one can receive for himself; it is all about moving toward and coming before our Creator.

Therefore, the proper way to pray is not to come making demands, even when we feel we deserve to make them. We always go before God humbly, as if asking for a gift, and whatever is granted is out of pure graciousness.

The truth is no mortal human being ever has the merit to justify his requests; not even someone like Moses, who understood his contribution to God’s people, and who was a person who received the Ten Commandments and indeed recognized his virtues.

The Bible describes Moses as “the humblest person of any human being on the face of this Earth.” Moses sincerely believed that if any other person had all the opportunities he was granted, they would have performed much better than him.

What makes righteous people unique is that their accomplishments are never seen in their own eyes as being a reason to boast. Everything they do is seen as merely doing their duty, and when they stand before God, they are, in their own eyes, like a poor person asking for alms.

The Midrash says, “The world has no claim against God.” Anything that a mere finite mortal does can never add up to the infinity of God. Humans must never think that what they do adds anything to God. The proper attitude is to see whatever we are granted as pure kindness from above.

The fact that He pays any attention to our deeds…that alone is God’s kindness. And the fact that God in the Bible says, “He will reward” for our good deeds is pure benevolence.

Moses is teaching us the virtue of humility in prayer. As Zohar says, “He who is big is small, and he who is small is really big.

Chapter 65

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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