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February 5, 2016 12:15 am

Hillary Clinton Urges ‘Discipline of Gratitude’ While Pondering Jewish Parable

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Democratic presidential hopeful discusses Jewish parable at CNN Town Hall. Photo: Screenshot

Democratic presidential hopeful discusses Jewish parable at CNN Town Hall. Photo: Screenshot

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton advised listeners at a CNN Town Hall meeting on Wednesday to “practice the discipline of gratitude,” in pondering a question from a New Hampshire rabbi concerning a Hasidic Jewish parable.

“Regardless of how hard the days are, how difficult the decisions are, be grateful. Be grateful for being a human being, being part of the universe. Be grateful for your limitations. Know that you have to reach out to have more people be with you, to support you, to advise you, listen to your critics, answer the questions. But at the end, be grateful. Practice the discipline of gratitude,” said Clinton.

Her response was prompted by a question from Rabbi Jonathan Spira-Savett of Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, New Hampshire — according to the Jewish Insider — concerning a parable attributed to a turn-of-the-18th-century Polish rabbi:

Rabbi Simcha Bunem taught that every person has to have two pockets and in each pocket they have to carry a different note. And the note in one pocket says the universe was created for me. And in the other pocket the note says I am just dust and ashes. And I want you to take a moment and think about what you would tell us about your two pockets. How do you cultivate the ego, the ego that we all know you must have, a person must have to be the leader of the free world, and also the humility to recognize that we know that you can’t be expected to be wise about all the things that the president has to be responsible for?

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Clinton called the question “absolutely wonderful,” and went on to explain:

I feel very fortunate that I am a person of faith, that I was raised in my church and that I have had to deal and struggle with a lot of these issues about ambition and humility, about service and self-gratification, all of the human questions that all of us deal with, but when you put yourself out into the public arena, I think it’s incumbent upon you to be as self-conscious as possible. This is hard for me. You know, I never thought I’d be standing on a stage here asking people to vote for me for president. I always wanted to be of service…

I have friends who are rabbis who send me notes, give me readings that are going to be discussed in services. So I really appreciate all that incoming… And the final thing I would say, because again, it’s not anything I’ve ever talked about this much publicly, everybody knows I — I have lived a very public life for the last 25 or so years. And so I’ve had to be in public dealing with some very difficult issues and personal issues, political, public issues. And I read a, um, a treatment of the prodigal son parable by the Jesuit Henri Nouwen, who I think is a magnificent writer of spiritual and theological concerns. And I — I read that parable and there was a line in it that became just a lifeline for me: and it basically is practice the discipline of gratitude.

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