On Practicing Humility

On Practicing Humility

“Humility is not thinking you are small. It is thinking that other people have greatness within them.” – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z”l


As we approach Yom Kippur, I have been thinking a lot about how we show up for one another. More specifically, the ways we approach conversations as we seek to solve a problem, address a challenge, or seize an opportunity.

These discussions don’t often begin with 100% certainty, or capital “T” truths. Instead, as a community and as individuals, we are given the difficult task of weaving together a series of perspectives and lowercase “t” truths, with each person at the table providing a range of ideas in our attempt to understand the world. Frequently, even many of those things that I believe to be Truths turn out to be more complicated than I originally thought.

In our pursuit of answers to communal questions, and combined with a commitment to fostering meaningful conversations, humility must play a pivotal role. This process is not always straightforward, and, without humility at the center, we become divided, less resilient, and unable to move forward with a shared sense of purpose.

When humility is the cornerstone of dialogue – not because we doubt our own perspective but because we believe that the other might have an important view, as well – we open the door to understanding and growth. I’ve learned from experience that by approaching conversations with this in mind, we can acknowledge that our individual perspectives are pieces of a larger puzzle.

It also fosters a sense of respect for one another, allowing us to assume positive intent and recognize that those engaging in critical conversations genuinely care about finding common ground or innovative solutions. Over time, we are able to build trust and strengthen our relationships.

So, this Yom Kippur, a time of reflection and atonement that requires humility when asking for forgiveness, I hope to use this moment to consider how I engage in discourse throughout the year.

I will be committing myself to approaching conversations with the humility required to create spaces where diverse voices are heard and respected. By doing so, I believe we can navigate complexities, build bridges, and make progress, one lowercase “t” truth at a time and open the space for the greatness that is in each one of us.

Shabbat Shalom and G’mar Chatima Tova (may you be inscribed in the book of life),