The passuk mentions that the king should have a Sefer Torah with him to learn to fear Hashem, לבלתי רום לבבו מאחיו in order that he should not raise up his heart over his brothers. The Ramban says that here the Torah hints to the issur of being haughty. A king, with his authority, is above everyone and everyone else is below him. The Torah warns the king to lower himself and be as other people who are underneath him. Certainly everyone else who don’t have a reason to be haughty should not be haughty.
The Ramban explains that the middah of ga’avah is detestable before Hashem as it states תועבת ה’ כל גבה לב, since Hashem alone has the elevated greatness and He is above everything completely.
The Rambam brings that with midos a person should choose the middle path; he shouldn’t go too much to one side or the other. For example, with money a person should not be stingy and close his hand to all, yet a person should not be a spendthrift. Rather he should contribute according to his ability and help those in need. Also, one shouldn’t be too happy or too sad, rather he should have a nice pleasant face. However there are certain middos that one should go to the extreme, for example not being haughty. It is not enough to be humble, rather one should be very humble as it states that Moshe Rabbeinu was עניו מאד, very humble.
Why is the middah of ga’avah so severe?
HaRav Wolbe explains that a ba’al ga’avah is one who feels he is something unique and has power independent from Hashem. This is comparable to a little child who begins to walk and feels confident to go anywhere he desires. He waddles around everywhere without accepting any authority over him. So too a person with haughtiness releases Hashem’s authority over himself and he becomes boss over himself and others. This is as Chazal say that one who raises his heart denies Hashem. Hashem says about such a person “I can’t live with him in the world.”
The Ramban says that one who has ga’avah rebels against Hashem because he glorifies himself with Hashem’s clothing, as it states ה’ מלך גאות לבש. He doesn’t recognize that it is Hashem who gave him the power to accomplish. HaRav Dessler explains that a ba’al ga’avah wants to remove Hashem from His throne and sit in His place. Only Hashem who is above everything and completely in control, can have ga’avah, however people who are dependent on Hashem and have nothing on their own cannot be haughty.
HaRav Wolbe says we can infer from Chazal that Hashem’s Shechinah will dwell together with one who is not haughty. Hashem says, “I and he can dwell together in the world.” Such a person will see extra siyatah d’shmaya wherever he turns.
May Hashem help us recognize how severe being haughty is, and lower ourselves to enable Hashem to rest His Shechina with us!