We find many times in tanach and chazal (eg Sota 5a) where humbleness is praised and haughtiness is condemned. I would like to understand why that is. A person can conceivably fulfill all the commandments of the torah, and be a genuinely good person while still being conceited. What is it about excessive self-pride that is so incongruous with Judaism?

  • And be a genuinely good person? Define good person.
    – Double AA
    Apr 24, 2013 at 16:01
  • @DoubleAA i mean not a m'navel b'reshus ha'torah
    – user2110
    Apr 24, 2013 at 16:03
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    Interesting definition (which is almost identically ambiguous). Why do you think haughtiness is not included?
    – Double AA
    Apr 24, 2013 at 16:04

3 Answers 3


To every positive trait there is a flip side and vice versa. Character traits often have elements of good and bad to them. (Rambam:HaMada-Hilchos Deyos 1:3,4)

Giava AKA Haughtiness can be a path to piety as well as the undoing of it.

For example, if a person has so much pride as to say to themselves "I will not do this aveirah(transgression) because this is not who I am" then there is merit.

But, if someone acquires torah knowledge and wisdom and lords it over others as a status than that is an undoing of piety.

An example is when the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) Aaron would don the white robes to enter the holy of holies, he wore them as a symbol of humility, yet did not allow wearing them to give him a feeling of status as in "Look at me I get to wear the 'humble' clothes -which makes me special"

It's a slippery slope because Aaron knew who he was but he also did not allow it to manifest in his ego.

The ego is critical to creativity, self-expression and free will. Without those things we aren't complete people. We are supposed to want better things and be competitive but for the right reasons.

-But... let those things go awry and it can be almost idolatrous -(leading to having a quick temper which is compared to idolatry because a person forgets g-d orders things a certain way to every person) -and can lead to narcissism and hedonism.

I hope that helps

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    Thanks for this answer and welcome to Mi Yodeya. Citing sources for the points you make would make this answer much more compelling.
    – user2110
    Apr 24, 2013 at 17:59
  • Regarding Aharon, I was can cite Vayikarah, Kedoshim, and for additional sources I will follow up with the exact source in Perkie Avos, and a source I can't remember exactly -but I will find it regarding the duality of middos, (Tanyah?) I can Paraphrase Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Book "To Heal a Fractured World" Ch1 -Faith as protest (I believe was the heading) where he cites dialog with Avraham and Moshe as testament to the nature of or free will. I admit, There is another mussar book, -I think "Gateways of the tzadikkim" that compares anger to Avodah Zarah. Avos also does, I believe. Apr 25, 2013 at 15:40

Arrogance is perhaps the worst character trait, because the greater one think one is, the less greatness one ascribes to G-d, and to others.

So the consequence of arrogance is thinking one's accomplishments are due to one's own efforts rather than to G-d, leading one to fail to praise and thank G-d. It also causes one to think little of other people, getting angry and impatient at them.

In addition, arrogance leads one to trust one's own ideas, rather than in Chazal and the great rabbis of this generation. This leads to heretical ideas and neglecting observance.

Finally, if one thinks highly of oneself, one is less likely to try to improve oneself through improving one's character traits, Torah learning, and observance.


I would say that the torah was given on har sinai the 'smallest' mountain to show that haughtiness and Torah dont go together. It is also no coincidence that moshe rabainu was the most humble of men and only through him could the Torah be given. The question was what is wrong with being haughty. So this answers it by saying he will not be able to learn Torah. Since torah and haughtiness dont go together.

  • 2
    You could easily edit your explanatory comment into your answer. That, and maybe a source to support you, would likely garner several up votes.
    – Seth J
    Apr 25, 2013 at 0:55
  • Well I have edited it but not yet put in a source which I think is totally unnecessary here.
    – user2709
    Apr 25, 2013 at 4:13
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    @shulem Most views on any page on Mi Yodeya come from random internet searches, not our regular users. We try and be accommodating to them because they likely are less educated than us. Plus, as someone who has looked for many a source that I thought was obvious, I assure you you'll be surprised sometimes at what you find when you take the time to look.
    – Double AA
    Apr 25, 2013 at 4:23
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    And also, whenever a post is edited, anyone can change their vote. This is designed so that the voting score can be updated with the quality of your post. I know this site has its quirks and unspoken rules, but I promise you if you get used to it then it's a very powerful tool. Give us a try :)
    – Double AA
    Apr 25, 2013 at 4:25

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