The learned as well as the pious have always been tempted to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think in comparison with others. Paul has to warn his Christians against it, and to remind them that the measure of faith is a gift unequally distributed by God. Johanan ben Zakkai, who lived in memory as the unrivalled master of all branches of Jewish learning, gave a like warning: "If you have learned a great deal of Torah, do not claim credit for yourself, for that is what you were made for."

Humility is the condition of true learning. "As wine does not keep in vessels of gold or silver, but in the meanest of vessels, earthenware, so the words of the Law (the result of study) keep only in one who humbles himself." It was a current saying of the rabbis of Jamnia: "I am a creature (a human being) and my fellow is a creature; my work is in town and his work is in the field; I rise early to my work, and he to his. As he does not esteem his occupation superior to mine, so I do not esteem mine superior to his. Perhaps you may say, I accomplish much and he little, but we are taught, It matters not whether much or little, if only a man directs his mind to Heaven." The scholar and the peasant respect each other's calling, and the scholar recognizes that in God's sight it is not the nature of a man's work nor its intrinsic importance that counts, but the wholeheartedness of the thought of God with which it is done.

from pages 245-246, Judaism in the First Century, Volume II