Page 176 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
ignoring the fact that he was their leader. He served as a waiter
at a feast in honor of his father-in-law, Je thro (Exodus 18:12).
In this, he followed the example of Abraham who served the
three guests who visited him. Indeed, Abraham’s humility won
him the respect of the people of Heth. They said to Abraham:
“you are a prince of God among us.” That is, they felt that
although Abraham was a prince, he still was “among” them;
he did not act as though he was greater than them (Genesis
23:4). The ultimate lesson is that one who is small in this world
will be great in the world to come; and one who considers him­
self great in this world will be small in the world to come (Gen­
esis 23:1).
A facet of humility is that one should not try to show off
his piety and righteousness. On the contrary, one should walk
humbly with God, keeping his piety as private as possible. A
story is told of Rabbi Huli. He took upon himself a three-day
fast as an act of repentance and piety. On the afternoon of
the third day, he was obliged to visit the home of a friend.
The host offered Rabbi Huli a cup of coffee. Not wanting to
offend his host and not wanting to reveal that he was fasting,
Rabbi Huli took the coffee and drank it. He later had to fast
another three days to make up for having broken this fast with
the coffee. Rabbi Huli happened to reveal this story long after
it happened.
In the
Meam Loez,
Rabbi Huli reminded readers of the rule
that one should bow during the Amidah prayer only at the
designated places. To bow more frequently would be a sign
of presumptuousness and false piety. One should not do things
by which he will make himself appear to be more pious than
other worshippers (Genesis 12:4).
If one is invited to a kosher meal, he should eat the food
served to him along with everyone else. This is especially true
if Torah scholars are eating at the meal. By not eating, one
would appear to make himself stricter and more pious than
the scholars (Genesis 21:33).
CONCLUSION
Rabbi Yaacov Huli’s
Meam Loez,
written in the early 18th cen­
tury for the Judeo-Spanish-speaking Sephardic world, is per­
haps
the
classic work of Judeo-Spanish literature. It reflected