The newspaper article was well researched and the facts seemed to be substantiated. Mr. Silver was shocked by the revelations. How could it be possible?
“I can’t believe what I’m reading,” Mr. Silver said. “How could such a nice, humble soul get involved with such bad people? The others always had bad reputations, but he doesn’t fit in the picture.”
“It’s really not hard to understand when you think about it,” Mr. Greenstein responded. “When you push humility to an extreme, you may develop a low self-image. If that should occur, almost anyone at all can influence your behavior.”
“You may be right,” Mr. Silver acknowledged. “He was never a leader and always a follower.”
Rambam teaches that in all character traits one should develop a balanced approach to live by. Even good traits like generosity and compassion can result in a negative outcome when carried to an extreme. For example, one who is overly generous may give away so much that he leaves himself in need of help from others.
However, Rambam suggests, humility and avoidance of anger should be pushed to an extreme end of the spectrum. Harav Eliyahu Dessler suggests that even humility has its limits. “Even humility, the crown prince of all traits, can be transformed into a negative trait. If a person is excessively submissive, he will be influenced by wicked people to do evil.” (Michtav MeEliyahu, vol. 3, p. 34)
It’s important to acknowledge that all your talents and achievements are gifts from Hashem. That is true humility. But it is also important to maintain a degree of self-worth to deflect the influence of wrongdoers.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Someone who insults or curses another person really insults himself. A person of good character would not insult anyone. Whenever someone insults you, he is publicizing that he has faults. It is not necessary to reply to his insult for he has insulted himself. (Ktav Sofer, Harav Moshe Sofer, Chut HaMeshulash, p. 32)