Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If I am not for myself - Self-Care in Jewish texts

This morning, I'm going to be teaching at the EPIC Institute Beit Midrash (house of learning) session with Susannah Sagan, our unflappable Associate Director (and BRAND NEW EXEMPLAR OF EXCELLENCE WHAT'S UP) about Jewish Self-Care.

Hillel used to say:
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

We're used to viewing this text in a social service context, I think, or in a "get off your butt and do something" context. But as a rabbi, I see whispers of a call to take care of others around us by taking care of ourselves.

Using the following texts, we'll "plug them in" all around Hillel's famous quote to make a real-life plan for self-care in our busy Jewish professional lives. No one knows this better than our students - if we're not doing okay, we're certainly not going to do you - or Hillel - any good either.

Do not worry about tomorrow’s trouble, for you do not know what the day may bring. Tomorrow may come and you will be no more, and so you will have worried about a world that is not yours!

Talmud Bavli, Tractate Yevamot, 63b

In a place where no one behaves like a human being, you must strive to be human!

Hillel, in Pirke Avot 2.6

Despise no one, and call nothing useless, for there is no one whose hour does not come, and nothing that does not have its place.
Shimon ben Azai, in Pirke Avot 4.3

Do not give yourself over to sorrow or distress yourself deliberately. A merry heart keeps a person alive, and joy lengthens one’s days.
Wisdom of Ben Sira, chapter 30

It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.
Pirke Avot 2:21

Days are scrolls; write on them what you want to be remembered.
Bahya Ibn Pakuda

Stay tuned for updates from the "Track Sessions" (I think that means stuff with our own incredible staffs, woot!) this afternoon.

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