Recently Rabbi Steinsaltz was asked: If you could give just one piece of advice to our generation’s youth, what would it be?
Rabbi Steinsaltz replied:
Run faster and harder every day, to make your world a better place.
You see, we cannot change the world alone, but we can make it better.
When I die, I really do not care about what will be engraved on my tombstone.
That will be my children’s headache.
But the question I will ask myself is: “Have I left this world in a better state than the state it was in when I found it?”
By running faster and working harder today more than yesterday, we have a good shot at leaving the world in a better state than when we found it.
The problem is that when people are young, they are anxious and eager to act.
But when they get older, they become calm and much less eager to take risks and act.
Not because the desire to act has vanished, but because we become wiser through our personal experiences.
This wiser perspective decreases our audacity to act, because we are then fully aware of the dangerous consequences that our actions entail.
So, unfortunately, we stop acting altogether.
But I personally never agreed with this approach.
It does not work for me.
As I get older, I become more and more anxious, and increasingly eager to act.
For I now realize that my time in this world is more limited and I still have so many more things that I would like to accomplish.
If you ever held a grenade after releasing its pin, you know exactly how precious time is.
At that point, it will only take 7 seconds for the grenade to explode, and you then fully understand the value of each and every second.
The older I get the more I learn the value of the time that elapses, just like a grenade holder.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
As shared with me by my good friend, Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, Congregation Beth Tefillah, Scottsdale, AZ