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Human Greatness

I want to achieve greatness in my life, but it seems that I don’t have a lot of natural talent. I also don’t have much money and resources, and don’t come from a well-connected family. I wonder what my future will be and this is getting me depressed. Any ideas?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

In the secular world, it's only the "big" achievements that get attention. World leaders, movie stars and business tycoons are splashed on magazine covers and glorified as symbols of humanity. But that's not reality. Because if you ask 100 people, "Who was the greatest influence in your life?" chances are not one of them will mention an Olympic gold medalist or President of the United States. More than anything, parent and teachers have molded and shaped who we are. Not because of any dramatic, life-changing discoveries. But because they demonstrated care and compassion, day in and day out.

One religious young woman that I know was visiting her family, and a family friend asked her what she plans to do with her life? She answered, “I want to be a good person.”

Another woman I know, with many talents and abilities, revealed to me her secret desire for how she would like to spend her days: sitting in the preemie ward of the hospital, holding babies’ hands and stroking their cheeks.

In life, we can inherit many things from our ancestors: Medical conditions, hair color, money. In Judaism we say we inherit spiritual DNA as well. When our biblical ancestors exhibited character beyond the bounds of human expectation, they ingrained that for all eternity. Metaphysically, that genetic coding has been bequeathed to each of us, giving us the innate potential to rise to those heights. These acts require no money, so spectacular talent, or intellectual prowess.

We possess a great power – of loyalty, sincerity, and true concern for others. Our task is to actualize that into reality.

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