A Word of Encouragement

“Many years ago, at the beginning of my rabbinical career, I kept waiting for a word of encouragement from a senior rabbinical figure. I was working hard, trying to innovate approaches, seeking new ways of getting people engaged in Jewish life and learning. You need support at such moments, because taking risks and suffering the inevitable criticism is emotionally draining. The encouragement never came. The silence hurt. It ate, like acid, into my heart. Then in a lightning-flash of insight, I thought: What if I turn the entire scenario around. What if, instead of waiting for Rabbi X to encourage me, I encouraged him? What if I did for him what I was hoping he would do for me? That was a life-changing moment. It gave me a strength I never had before. I began to formulate it as an ethic. Don’t wait to be praised: Praise others. Don’t wait to be respected: Respect others. Don’t stand on the sidelines, criticising others. Do something yourself to make things better. Don’t wait for the world to change: Begin the process yourself, and then win others to the cause.”

Judaism’s Life-Changing Ideas, pp. 290-291