It all begins with me

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It all begins with me

October 31, 2017
Orit Esther Riter
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BS’D

There is a well-known statement attributed to R’ Yisrael Salanter ztk’l.

He once said: “When I was young, I wanted to change the world. Then I realized that I could not change the world. And so I thought, maybe I will change my nation. Then I realized that I could not change my nation. And so I thought, maybe I will change my village. Then I realized that I could not change my village. And so I thought, maybe I will change my family. Then I realized that I could not change my family. And so I thought, maybe I will change myself. Then I realized, if I would change myself, this would change my family. And if I would change my family, this would change my village. And if I would change my village, this would change my nation. And if I would change my nation, I would change the world.”

Torah study is a personalized experience in that it ‘talks’ to every individual differently so that we each hear the wisdom that our soul needs to receive. Torah wisdom conveys to us a custom-made message. Therefore, we are required to elevate our minds and hearts to internalize our specific calling. No two people learn the same Torah just as we learn a ‘different’ Torah at various stages in our lives depending on the message we need to ‘hear’.

We must be prepared to change ourselves rather than erroneously expect that others do. Torah is our physician who gives us each a ‘prescription’ for our individual ‘ailments.’ Change begins with us. Accusations, blame, complaints, denial and excuses are, as R’ Rietti calls them, the ‘ABCDE’s’ of running away from our individual responsibility. We are responsible to change ourselves, not others.

As we learn from R’ Salanter, this is the only way to change the world.

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