Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ethics of the Fathers Day 2

See Day 1 here.

In Chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot, we read Rabbi Hillel's famous quote:

If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

 Unfortunately, most people stop at the first question... This leads to the attitude of "looking out for number one".  Not very enlightened, eh?  But read in context, this is clearly a foreshadowing of the standard airplane emergency procedure: "Put on your own oxygen mask first, then attend to your children."    Yes, we do need to take care of our own interests.  If we ourselves live in abject poverty and in poor health, we make ourselves a burden on others, and are far less able to take care of those who are even less fortunate.

At the same time, if we stop right there, then, "what am I?" -- that kind of existence is brutish and meaningless.  In order to have meaning, our life must have a purpose that is greater than us.

And if not now, when?

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