Want to work on humility? Move to a country where you don’t know the language!
Maimonides, The Rambam, teaches that very piece of wisdom from the Talmud — leave the place you live and move to another land. It’s from the section on teshuvah, clearing up your mistakes. The key to teshuva and change begins with humility.
Yes, it’s easy to keep on struttin’ when you are the “big man on campus,” “a big fish in a small pond,” or “the home team.” Perhaps you remember what it was like when you went off to college or moved with your family to another city, starting all over again. It’s not easy to make new friends, network new connections, and figure out new social norms.
Now throw in a foreign language.
I came home the other day after trying to navigate Israeli banks and stores and told my husband that my lack of Hebrew skills is so humbling, especially for someone (read: me) who prides herself on her communication skills. I don’t have a natural talent for foreign languages and am always grateful that I was born into the English language, a global language that I have been able to get by with.
Do I plan to learn Hebrew– yes. Will it be easy– no. But it will definitely be humbling, and since Maimonides says that humility is the greatest character trait one could have, I am ready to embrace the journey.