humility and harmony
by Tzvi Schnee
Today is the 31st day, four weeks and three days of the counting of the Omer. Today’s middah (character trait) has to do with the harmony of humility. How may humility be expressed in relationship to others, in a way that brings peace and harmony? Surely, if humility includes deference to others in a sincere manner, then the resultant effect in any given situation should be a harmonious one. Otherwise, contrary to acting out of humility, asserting one’s own point of view, as if that perspective is the only right one, could lead to conflict.
Furthermore, to admit to making a mistake, exemplifying humility, should also lead to harmony. Most ideally, the harmony within humility, i.e., how the aspect of harmony enhances humility, could be explained by expressing humility in a harmonious fashion. For example, a compassionate (harmonious) feeling towards another could elicit a person to act in a deferential manner, giving way to the other person’s insistence on being right, regardless of what one might think.
When I engage the world, do I walk out my door in the morning in all humility, or with pomp and circumstance? What is my prevailing attitude at the beginning of the day? If I project an air of haughtiness, I’m bound to be brought low by someone else; if not, hopefully, I’ll realize at some point when disharmony appears in my circumstances, that I am the one who brought this upon myself. Interacting with others requires deference at times, as well as humble assertion in other instances. Ultimately, I know that H’Shem will paint the circumstances of my life on a daily basis in direct response to my need to learn His ways, rather than to assert myself above and beyond my own level of understanding. It is written in the Talmud, according to the sages, “Who is a wise man? One who is able to say, ‘I don’t know.'”