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Parashat Yitro – “With humility comes knowledge” (Proverbs 11:2)


“With humility comes knowledge” (Proverbs 11:2).

“Even if the entire world considers you a pious person, nevertheless you should not consider yourself as such” (Talmud).

The giving of the Ten Commandments in this weeks Torah portion lays out the fundamental principles of our faith from which all morality flows, like streams that branch off from the river. Just as water flows downhill from a higher source, so too does true Torah knowledge only flow to one who first has humility.

A famous psychologist relates a story that happened to him at the beginning of his career when he visited a well renowned and respected Rabbinic Sage. Since the Rabbi was often consulted on medical issues he took the opportunity to ask the psychologist about the latest developments in medicine for the mentally ill.

“Is there anything that can cure someone from delusions?” He asked.

The Psychologist replied that modern medicine had not yet found a way to treat them effectively since they were very resistant to treatment and delusional thinking was difficult to eradicate.

“But what if someone has the delusion that he is the most righteous person of this generation?”

“For that,” replied the doctor, “there is alas no medication.”

The Rabbi then shook his head sadly “Too bad, that malady is so wide spread!”

Delusions of any kind are a sign of mental illness. How sick a person must be to consider oneself a completely righteous person and how wise that the Talmud was to caution us against developing such delusions.