“It doesn’t matter what’s going on around you. A good person will rise above it”. My father had always been a good person, but I had never realized the extent of his wisdom. His words were true. The whole world can be on the wrong path, but if you are strong enough, you can rise above it.
Today in my University lecture, Professor Steven Katz was talking about those who rescued Jews from the Nazis during world War II. His ultimate message was that their background didn’t matter, what mattered was their character. If you have good character, you’re going to do the right thing.
In the second chapter of Pirkei Avot, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai says “Go and see which is the good a man shall cherish most. Rabbi Eliezer said, a good eye. Rabbi Joshua said, a good companion. Rabbi Yosi said, a good neighbor. Rabbi Shimon said, foresight. Rabbi Elazar said, a good heart. He said to them: I prefer the words of Elazar ben Arach to your words, for in his words yours are included”
Character is a quality that can move mountains. It can cause a person to rise above a negative situation or to fall below what is right. As we leave Channukah behind this year, a holiday devoted to standing up for what is right, we should all invest ourselves in building beyond our resumes and becoming people that we would be proud of. We should stand up for what we believe in, build on what makes us good people, and finally, do the right thing.