Let My People Know

"The joys of a very posh wedding will never be as satisfying as the smile of someone we love"


Today, we grapple with many of the same problems and questions as our forefathers 5,000 years ago, and we have the same lack of adequate answers. 

Whether people are cave dwellers or live in high-rise apartment building, they face the same problems: how to live their lives, how to work out disagreements with others, how to obtain the things they crave most, such as friendship, closeness, and trust.

It makes little difference if one's opponent holds a spear, a machine gun, or a portfolio full of papers; as has always been the case, enemies are enemies, and true friends are hard to find. 

The impoverished citizens of today's world may be far less poor than they were 1,000 years ago, but their envy of those who have more has not changed much. 

Today's rich–as rich people always have–find that a more comfortable life is not necessarily a happier one. 

An expensive gourmet dish in a lavish restaurant will never be as tasty as a meal eaten after two days of fasting. 

The joys of a very posh wedding will never be as satisfying as the smile of someone we love.

We may have more access to more kinds of information today than ever before, but this does not make our minds better or brighter. 

There is still the same gap between a few wise people, a majority of stupid people, and a large number of mediocre ones, and this is something that even the best kind of education cannot change. 

The fool of the past who could not adeptly handle his bow and arrow is today bungling with his computer. 

Cruelty and murder have not been obliterated by any modern invention; they have simply changed their external manifestations. 

And the fulfillment of the age-old dream of peace and rest does not seem closer, but rather much more remote.

Our problems are timeless because, fundamentally, we still want exactly the same things: external objects, like new cars and fancy clothing, and internal things, such as love, the desire to advance, and the strength to cope with loss. 

We may have more trinkets to keep us busy, but we as humans are the same as always, with the same basic drives and quests.

The only real changes in this world of unceasing mutability are the subjective ones, not the objective ones. 

A person who changes will perceive real change, but when a person remains unchanged, nothing will really change. 

Despite the speed of events, the novelty and the newness, we inadvertently face the same basic questions: the passage of time, our finiteness, the fact that most of us will not be remembered as individuals, and that even whole societies will eventually be wiped out.

If there is any hope for change in this world, people must turn to the only thing that can indeed make a difference: themselves.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From "The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same," an essay by by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz