Location, location, location. Whether it’s real estate, the venue for a party, or the site of a momentous occasion in one’s life, the choice of location is exceedingly important.
Jewish tradition teaches that God chose Mt. Sinai for the giving of the Torah (commemorated by Jews on Shavuot, this year Thursday evening May 28 – Saturday evening May 30) because it was “the smallest of mountains,” emphasising the importance of humility.
If so, however, one might ask: Why didn’t God give the Torah on a plain or in a valley? Implied is that the choice of a mountain indicates the need for a certain degree of self-esteem. For both these qualities - humility and self-esteem - are necessary to connect with God. An individual who is beset with egotism cannot connect with God. Nevertheless, humility alone is insufficient. A person who lacks strength of character and self-esteem will be unable to overcome obstacles that may obstruct his observance of his religion.
Humility and pride need not be mutually exclusive. Pride and self-esteem do not always stem from self-concern, nor are they always the result of an individual’s perception of his personal virtues. A positive self-image and feelings of self-esteem flow naturally from a healthy outlook on life. No one needs a reason to feel good about himself. The very fact that they exist and that God created them is reason enough for one to experience self-worth.
From this perspective, the qualities of humility and pride may be seen as complementary. Humility encourages the development of an ever deeper connection to God, which, in turn, increases the above-described mode of self-esteem.
The feeling of pride produced by a connection to God is more powerful than the feeling generated by the appreciation of one’s positive virtues. Self-centred pride is limited by the finite scope of one’s qualities and can be dampened by a formidable individual or challenge.
The personal strength derived from a commitment to fulfil God’s will, by contrast, is reinforced by God’s infinity. No obstacle is able to stand in its way.
Rabbi Yehuda Pink MSc
Solihull & District Hebrew