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Humble History

For this week’s Torah portion, we invite you to share your tales of being brought low

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Cain, by Henri Vidal, in Paris’s Tuileries Gardens (Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons)

Dear Readers,

For the past few weeks, I’ve been commenting here on Moses’s farewell speech to the Israelites, marveling at how the nation’s fading father managed to vividly retell the story of the nation’s tortured past as well as admonish the people to remain faithful in the future.

As his speech nears its end in this week parasha, Moses delivers this same message again, with fiery clarity.

“Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day,” Moses says. “Lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and you will say to yourself, ‘My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me.’”

It’s a fascinating passage. For most peoples, history is a string of triumphs, a succession of victories that shape the shared consciousness and create a sense of community. But Moses has something very different in mind. Moses is advocating a humble history. He’s telling the people to remember not their glory days but their basic, fundamental, and incontrovertible meekness, because they’re all at the Lord’s mercy—and that, really, is Jewish history’s one and only theme.

And so, this week, let us experiment. As there’s nothing more humble a writer can do than give up his perch, I hereby turn this space over to you. Write me at, and share with me your own stories of humility, of realizing your own might would only go so far, of seeking help from heaven or on earth. Your contributions can be as short or as long as you’d like, signed or anonymous: as long as they’re appropriate, we’ll publish them all.

Humbly yours,


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Humble History

For this week’s Torah portion, we invite you to share your tales of being brought low

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