If a person is to grow and mature spiritually, one must adopt and strengthen certain inner qualities, in order to facilitate that growth. Certain character traits and behavioral patterns are particularly important to the process, since they serve as the foundation for spiritual exploration and expression. The furthering and strengthening of these qualities are very central to the path of self-development. Certain human qualities are, in fact, so pivotal in establishing the groundwork for personal growth, that they deserve special attention and therefore, warrant close examination.
In this regard, it is difficult to overstate the spiritual importance of the quality of modesty. For modesty is humility. Humility is one of the central keys to spiritual growth and personal development. The Torah states, that Moses was one of the most humble human beings, that ever lived. This is neither a random comment nor an arbitrary statement. It is not meant as a simple description of Moses nor even a well-intentioned compliment. It is a summation of who Moses was, and why he was so important. It is in this one short, poignant verse that the character of Moses is fully summed up.
How enormously important those few words are! The Torah could have described the main aspects of Moses character in a number of ways. Moses was a great leader. He was courageous and determined. He faced Pharaoh down. He led the Jews to freedom.
Moses was also a man of great patience. He served as judge and military leader, guiding the people physically and spiritually the forty years of the desert wandering. Moses was a highly spiritual being. He spoke directly to God. It was he, who was chosen to ascend Mount Sinai and receive the Law from the Hand of God.
Yet, the Torah does not describe Moses as a most courageous individual. It does not refer to him as mighty or wise, nor as revered or holy. Though he was in reality all of those things, The Torah chooses to describe Moses, first and foremost, as being exceedingly humble. Why? Because, humility is the very basis for the type of achievements Moses was capable of. Moses never sought to be a spokesman for his people. Rather, he was embarrassed to speak in public.
He did not choose to be a leader, God asked him to assume the mantle of leadership. Moses did not seek to be an intercessor between God and the people. The people, in their fear, requested of him, that he take on that role. It was God, who approached and spoke to Moses. Not the other way around. That is what made Moses, so holy a soul.
He was not ego-centric or driven by a desire for recognition. Rather, he was modest and self effacing by nature. By being humble, Moses was completely open and receptive. Though he did not choose the tasks and assignments he was to undertake, he accepted them freely and fulfilled them completely. He did what needed to be done, because, on one hand, God asked him to and on the other, because the obvious need was there.
Moreover, Moses was able to fulfill all of these varied assignments, because he was open to receiving instructions from God. Being a lawgiver, a judge, an arbiter, a military leader and a prophet, Moses not only had to wear a number of different hats, but also to be well versed in a number of unrelated skills.
For one human being to handle this level of responsibility for a half a century would, normally, be beyond the scope of any human being. The degree of concentration and organization alone, required to carry out these many levels of obligation for even a short period of time is almost impossible to comprehend. To consolidate all his talents, and to coordinate his time and energy, to meet these multiple and varied demands required something other than determination, will power, desire or drive. None of those would have facilitated success at this level. They simply would have burned Moses out and put him in an early grave. Instead, Moses lived to be 120.
Moses’ success was due to his deep and abiding humility. Moses had no sense of his own self-importance. He had no driving ego, no agenda, and no grand view of himself. In his modesty, he felt that he was truly a servant. Moses fled the court of Pharaoh. He escaped the corridors of power, self-aggrandisement and recognition. Moses, instead, chose to live simply and quietly as a shepherd until God, personally, asked him to take on the responsibility of helping to extract the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.
What is interesting is, that by serving God and the people, Moses became master of himself. He came to full fruition as a person, because the focus of his activity in this life was not on himself and his own needs, but rather upon how he could be of service to God and to other people.
To be humble is to be open. It is to have no preconceived expectations about life or about one’s place and importance in the world. Modesty is the willingness to let go of the tendency of ego to seek to rule one’s life. If one allows ego-centrism to define the course of one’s life, one is not available to the higher forces of spirit. Subsequently, one is also not in a position to allow the flow of divine energy to permeate one’s life and one’s life experience.
We cannot hear the voice of God in our lives, if our ego is preventing us from hearing it. It is only through humility, through the simple openness of heart and mind, uncluttered by the false beliefs and unreasonable expectation levels created by egoism, that we enable our inner spirit to come through and take control over our lives. It is through modesty, that the channel is kept open for the flow of divine guidance and blessing.
Humility is not a surrender of self nor of ego. On the contrary, it is an affirmation of the soul, the spiritual core of all of us. Humility is the act of submission to God. It is the acknowledgment that God is the center of our lives, as well as at the core of the life of the universe.
We affirm our connection to God, when we allow our souls and the divine spark within us to take charge of the course of our lives. Both, submission to God and the emergence of our true spiritual nature, as the guiding force of our earthly lives, are accomplished by modesty and humility. When we are truly open, then we view our lives, continually, as blank tablets upon which the soul writes life’s scripts, guided by the Hand of God. That is the paradigm set down by Moses.
Greater than all of his massive accomplishments stands the example of his life, his approach to living. Moses’ way of life is a great key. It is a model we should all strive to attain and to adhere to. Indeed, a great legacy. It is the secret of being real.