Dec 24, 2009

Why not you?

An American rosh yeshiva z'l (who shall remain nameless) had many pictures of gedolim hanging on the wall. He also had an empty picture frame hanging there. When asked what it was for, he said it was in order to remind him of the question: "Why Not You?" i.e. why shouldn't he do what it takes to be included as one of the gedolim pictures.

This story is told as an amazing and inspirational story and yet, when I heard this, it made me cringe.  I'm all for striving and improving but when the ambition is to be included in gedolim pictures, it seems to me to be an overt desire for kavod.  There were numerous Torah scholars who didn't "make it" to the league of being included in gedolim pictures that people hang on the wall.  Whether or not your photo is sought after by kids collecting gedolim pictures should not, it seems to me, be the focus.


  1. I feel like this. I love inspirational stories. If it inspired the 'subject' within the story or if it inspires someone reading it to better avodas Hashem then I think that's wonderful. It is said that what doesn't begin with Torah study for the sake of Hashem, will become Torah study for the sake of Hashem. (Help me with the exact wording please!?)

    I don't like to super analyze these types of stories because I feel it puts a critical eye and lessens the impact.

  2. "Mitoch she'lo lishma, ba lishma" - from doing it not for the sake of Heaven, you'll come to do it for the sake of Heaven." :)

    As for analyzing and diminishing the impact, I know what you mean. In this case, I didn't have a chance to analyze it. Someone told the story and I immediately felt, "Huh? Is this for real?" Oh well ..

  3. I know what you mean. The first time I saw this, my reaction was similar. Wasn't necessarily referring to you specifically, just a general thought I had about stories.

    And thanks for the quote!

  4. If they are true gedolim, they'd cringe at the thought of people hanging their picture on their wall. For instance, the Lubavitcher Rebbe didn't let his picture be taken for many years. The only justification it has is to inspire people to aspire to something higher and replace other secular kinds of pictures with something Torah'dik.