December 14, 2005

A Tale of True Humility

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

The profound humility of great Torah (Bible) scholars is manifested in their utter self-effacement. Although they are well aware of their exalted status and their capacity as authorities, they never allow this to go to their heads, and they do not see any reason why they should be singled out for undue honors.

The two outstanding Torah luminaries, Rabbi Akiva Eiger and Rabbi Jacob of Lisa, were once passengers in a coach. When they approached their destination, many of the community citizens who anticipated their arrival came out to form an honor guard to accompany these great men into the city.

When Rabbi Jacob saw the crowd that had gathered to escort the wagon, he decided that this could only be a tribute to his fellow sage, and he therefore secretly descended from the coach to join the throngs who marched alongside it. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, who was sitting on the other side of the coach, similarly concluded that this whole tumult must be for Rabbi Jacob, and he quietly alighted from the other side to participate in the mitzvah.

The empty wagon thus entered the city with its two prominent passengers lost in the crowd. Neither had accepted the possibility that he might be the intended recipient of the honor. Who can compare to these giants?

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