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Go ahead and stand out

Humility is a quality that all great leaders have. They are able to set their own desires and needs aside for the benefit of others. They don’t make their position about themselves but about the greater mission, and that’s how they are able to attract such large followings and inspire them to accomplish great things in this world.

But a leader’s humility doesn’t mean that they don’t recognize their own greatness and the respect that they command. It isn’t about ignoring their own stature but about acknowledging that all their qualities are G-d given and must be utilized for a greater purpose. We saw that in Moses, the greatest Jewish leader of all time, about whom the Torah says that he was the most humble man upon the face of the earth.

Moses’s humility didn’t result in him ignoring the magnitude of his position, that he was chosen by G-d to be the conduit between the people and the divine. He certainly did exude leadership vibes, and to ignore that would have been an utter denial of the facts. Yet at the same time, his extreme humility allowed him to be the most effective leader the Jews have ever had.

An analogy of this concept is found in G-d’s choice to give the Jewish people the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Midrash describes an “argument” among all the mountains in the region, each promoting its own virtues and qualities as being the one that the Torah should be given on. But G-d selected the one mountain that did not engage in this scuffle, Mount Sinai, since it was the smallest of all the mountains and the most humble. So by the Torah being given on this humble mountain, G-d was sending a message of how much He values humility over arrogance.

The question, however, can be asked: If the point in selecting Mount Sinai was because it was humble, why give the Torah on a mountain altogether? Why not give the Torah in a plain or a valley, further emphasizing the superiority of humility and staying low?

But that is really the answer — humility doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be trampled on. It doesn’t mean that you don’t recognize your self-worth and avoid standing out. It means that you are able to utilize your G-d given talents in order to make the world a better place. By giving the Torah specifically on a mountain, but a humble one, G-d’s message to us was that Torah as the core of our faith and all that Judaism represents, must stand out. It must always be central to our lives, guiding us through every situation a Jew finds himself in.

And the same goes for the Jewish people as a whole. We must stand out and be proud of who we are; not in a haughty or arrogant manner, but in a way that allows us to recognize who we are without being ashamed of our identity. Our Jewish pride is not about putting others down, but utilizing our unique position granted to us by G-d to help turn the world into a beautiful place for all.

That can only be accomplished by standing tall and proud, without being discouraged by the naysayers and cynics. We are proud to be Jewish, we are proud to stand out and be different, and the sooner we recognize that the better off the whole world will be.

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