Every month, the Pastor writes an article for the congregation as part of our newsletter entitled The Advance. Below is the article from the November 1, 2015 issue.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?
These words were spoken by a near contemporary of Jesus, Rabbi Hillel, who lived a long full life that ended when Jesus was a teenager. The first two questions that Rabbi Hilel poses to the reader are in tension with each other. We should be true to ourselves, but one should not go fare as to think only on yourself. The good rabbi identifies the tension in the commandment that is centuries older than him: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Embedded in this even briefer statement is the same tension between loving others selflessly and loving oneself. I have heard many a sermon where the preacher states that you simply cannot truly love someone else unless you love yourself, and I too believe that to be true. Now, if Rabbi Hillel stopped with those first two questions, this quotation would still be quite noteworthy. But the kicker that brings it over the top is “If not now, when?” In all of our rumination on how to be for ourselves and for others, there is an urgency that requires action. It will not do for us to see the wisdom of this statement if it doesn’t bring us to decisions and actions that demonstrate wisdom. Yes, some choices are bes made when the timing is right, but, more often than not, hesitation misses the opportunity. Our good thoughts and intentions, generally age like milk rather than fine wine. Love that is never expressed in action is not love, but just a thought. I can think of too many situations in my life that remain at the crossroads of life udecided. Perhaps you can think of some crossroads of indecision in your life. Ask of yourself that rabbi’s question. I will do the say. “If not now, when?”