Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: "If you want to give me a birthday gift, I plead with you, make something of yourselves"


Rabbi Nachman of Breslov once told his disciples that he wants “Chasidim and disciples of a higher level.” 

His students were puzzled. 

They could not understand what their Rabbi meant exactly. 

They thought that the Rabbi was referring to a lofty and esoteric level. 

Finally, Rabbi Nachman explained to them:  

"I want my disciples to be more rich, more studious, more doers." 

This is also my goal. 

I also want my students to be more rich, more studious, more doers. 

Perhaps not in all three categories, but at least in one of them.  

I ask you: a year has gone by; was I successful in creating such students?

Someone asked me to share with you some of my life memories. 

Truth be told–I have nothing exciting to tell you. 

I never hiked the Himalayas. 

I never went to the moon. 

I never killed a lion, although, I did manage to get hold of a lion’s skin, at the age of ten-years-old, to compare my hair-color to his. 

To my fascination, it was identical.

But after seventy five years, this is the real memory I hope to take with me, in this world and in the next: 

I want to create memories in forms of people who are pleasant-looking. 

Not externally, but internally. 

People of character and of action, in whom I can take pride in, as stated in the verse: “Israel, in whom I take glory" (Isaiah 49:3). 

A ninety-four year old friend gave me today an 18-year-old whiskey in honor of my birthday. 

The real gift, for which I am truly thankful, was the mere fact that he came to see me at such an age. 

But if you want to give me a birthday gift, I plead you, make something of yourselves. 

Be more. Do more. Become more. 

Let the fire of God burn within you. 

And strive to grow into beings of “glory before God” and beings of “glory before others,” (Ethics of our Fathers, Chapter 2:1).

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
On the occasion of the 75th birthday of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz