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I'M THE GREATEST ... NOT!

by Benyamin Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Editor    

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I start off almost every workday the same way. I sit at my desk and turn on the computer. In the background, I keep the television on and listen with one ear to the morning news programs to stay on top of what's going on in the world.

As I flip the channels on my television, from morning show to morning show, the same thing inevitably appears: a celebrity is promoting his newest film, an author is hawking his latest bestseller. Humility is thrown out the window as self-promotion becomes the mantra of the day.

Hawking products is not the only place where egotism pervades our society. Think about sports figures claiming they're the best in the world. Think about wealthy parents spending money on fancy cars and big houses: what kind of message is that sending to their children? As we learn in this week's Torah portion, we can be the best we can be without being haughty and without all the fanfare.

This thought resonates as we examine the beginning of the Book of Exodus which we read this week. In it, we are introduced to Moses, the most humble man in all of the Bible. Our sages teach us that Moses embodied the enviable trait of humility and all lessons regarding modesty can be derived from observing Moses' actions.

Keep in mind that Moses, because of his humility and not in spite of it, was chosen to be the leader of the Jewish people. A good leader, as any self-help guru can readily tell you, is one who places others upon pedestals and does not take the credit for himself. Precisely because Moses didn't promote himself (see Exodus 3:11), God promoted him to this high position.

As a Jew, humility serves an extra purpose. Not only should we curb our desire to toot our own horn amongst our friends and family, but, as well, we should recognize that we are merely servants of God, placed on this earth solely to serve Him. Put in this "big picture" perspective, the minutiae of our daily existence comes into extreme focus as we realize that we are merely pawns in God's divine game of chess.

We reside in a world where pounding on our chests loudly from the rooftops has become de rigueur. While self-promotion may be a lucrative business model for selling new products, we must keep in mind our place in this world and heed the lesson of the humble Moses. Indeed, we must keep our opinions of ourselves in check and leave our egos at the door.

And while we're at it, let's try to put something better on television.

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Benyamin Cohen is editor of Torah from Dixie.

You are invited to read more Parshat Shmot articles.

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