Balancing Humility and Pride
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa famously said: “Every person should have two pockets. In one pocket should be a piece of paper that reads, ‘I am but dust and ashes’ (Genesis 18:27). In the other pocket should be a note that says: ‘The world was created for me.’ (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).”
This wise Chasidic Rabbi captured so much of the essence of life with this simple idea: the sentiment of balancing humility and pride. How sometimes we can feel so important, and at other times we can feel so small.
This Yom Kippur marked the first year in which I stayed in synagogue during the Yizkor service. It was very difficult for me, as I cried thinking of my mother. I could see her face so clearly, and so vividly remember standing outside synagogue waiting for her to finish saying the kaddish prayer for her parents.
I remember my mom telling me how important it was to drink seltzer before the fast because it fills your stomach. And I remember the afternoon walks we would take on Yom Kippur and the bagels and lox she laid out on her blue plates the second the fast ended. And how she was always there for me and my sister whenever we needed her. And now she’s not with us in this world. Scary.
And one day my kids will miss me and cry for me – it’s all so scary. The realization that in the grand scheme of things, we are all but dust and ashes. But my mother was my world then and she created the world for me – and today I do all I can to make life grand and happy for my children.
While I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, as the new Jewish year begins, I am indeed having two framed notes hung up in my office this year: “I am but dust and ashes” and “The world was created for me.” There’ so much I want to and will do, and I won’t let anything stop me.
As a father, a husband, an entrepreneur, a writer, a Jew, and an American, there are so many different challenges and opportunities that I struggle with daily.
The pride of being a parent, balanced with the humility that comes with never having enough time with my children. Life is full of highs and lows: This simple boy from the Bronx, the grandson of Holocaust survivors who has a beautiful family. The struggle of not spending as much time with my family as I would like. Owning a public relations agency, which is successful, and struggling day to day with the many different challenges that come with owning a business…
The balances of life…