Rooted in Humility

Yael Eckstein  |  November 20, 2023

Jacob dreaming of angles

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. — Genesis 28:12

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayetze, which means “and he left,” from Genesis 28:10–32:3.

When my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, began to build the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, he was misjudged by many who questioned his motives and mission. Yet, he persevered by keeping his head down and remaining focused on what he knew God had called him to do.

In those difficult early years, my father endured plenty of hurtful criticism. However, even when The Fellowship became a success, and my father earned the respect of many important people, he never lost his characteristic humility. Those early challenging years taught him that if he succeeded, it was only because of God’s help. He understood that everything that The Fellowship achieved was not because of his talent, but because of God’s Will. Ultimately, I believe that my father’s humble spirit is what made him extraordinarily successful.

The Secret to Greatness

In this week’s Torah reading, we read about Jacob’s dream in which he saw “a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven.” There are many different interpretations of Jacob’s vision. One understanding is that God revealed to Jacob that the way to reach heaven is to be rooted in the earth. In other words, being rooted in humility is the path to reaching great heights.

This message is repeated in many different forms throughout the Bible. For example, in Psalm 37:11, we read, “the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.” In the Christian Bible, Jesus repeated this same teaching in his famous Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). However, we live in a society that espouses a very different creed. We are constantly bombarded by the message that we need to look a certain way, say impressive things, and wield a significant amount of power in order to achieve greatness.

Yet, the Bible teaches us that the real secret to greatness is humility. The Jewish sages put it this way: “He who is small is actually great.”

This week let’s ask ourselves how we might walk more humbly with God. Can we put others first? Can we overlook insults? Can we live each day with a servant’s heart?

When we remain rooted in humility, we will most certainly reach the Kingdom of heaven.

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