This Shabbos we read Parshas Behaaloscha. At the end of the Parsha we read of the episode where Miriam spoke disparaging regarding her brother Moses. Although she didn’t say such terrible things about him (she said he was a prophet like any other prophet, not greater than other prophets), and she herself had risked her life to watch over him when he was put by his mother into the Nile river as a baby, she was still punished for saying lashon hara – evil words about Moses. When the Torah wants to dive home to us how serious this sin is, the Torah points out to us that Moses himself was more humble then any other person on earth. (Numbers 12:3)
When we say that Moses was so humble, we don’t mean that he didn’t realize his strengths. Certainly the man who himself wrote the words “And no prophet ever arose as great as Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10) knew his greatness. Nonetheless Moses understood that whenever a person has qualities, these are bestowed upon him from Hashem. Perhaps one who is not given as many qualities from Hashem but is trying his hardest is on a greater level.
The famed work Shelah points out to us that if from all the traits of Moses the one that the Torah picks to praise him for was his humility, it must be that this trait is the greatest of traits. In fact, in the work “Ruach Chaim (1:1) Rabbi Chaim Volozhin tells us that if any human being would be as humble as Moses, he too would be given the Torah in its entirety.
The Chida writes that at the time that Rabbi Yosef Kairo made his monumental Shulchan Aruch – code of Jewish Law, “there were two other Rabbis who were capable of writing this all encompassing work. The reason Rav Yosef Kairo was selected was only because of his outstanding level of humility.”
Nachmanidies explains that when the Torah tells us that Moses was so humble, it is explaining how it could be that Miriam and Aaron spoke disparagingly about him in front of him and he didn’t answer them. This is the great level of those who hear someone disgrace them but don’t answer back. Our sages teach us that the world stands in the merit of such people, and that such people will attain the greatest heights in the future. Indeed, if a person has a situation where they are disgraced and they don’t respond, we are taught that this is a most opportune time for them to pour out their hearts to Hashem for their needs.
Rav Zalman of Volozhin was once traveling with his brother Rav Chaim of Volozhin. They came to an inn where they were lodging, and the innkeeper began to ridicule and verbally abuse them. Rav Zalman began to cry. Rav Chaim asked him, “ Do you care what this person says as he screams at you?” Rav Zalman answered, “I donn’t care. However I felt some pain in my heart at what he said. I am crying that I have not yet reached the level of those who rejoice when they come upon such situations.”
We can only imagine how much more peace would be in the world if we could only try to follow in these beautiful ways!!!