8 – Why Not You

I heard Rabbi Avraham Chaim Fueur say a eulogy for his father-in-law. His father-in-law was the great Rav Mordechai Gifter, the Telzer Rosh Yeshiva. And at the eulogy Rabbi Feuer described what it was like in the dorm room of his father-in-law when his father-in-law was a young boy. He said he grew up in America and the dorm was a dorm room like most other fellows’ dorm rooms. And yet if you walked into young Mordechai Gifter’s dorm room you would see one thing different. Over his bed was a mirror. Now, that wasn’t that unusual, other fellows had mirrors. But it was around the mirror. Around the mirror were all the great people that young Mordechai Gifter wanted to be like: Rav Shimon Shkop, Rav Baruch Ber — all the men that he aspired to be like. But that also was not the unusual part. It was the words over the mirror. Over the mirror were written the words “Why not you?” And apparently every day young Mordechai Gifter would go over to that mirror, look at the people that he aspired to be like, look at the very two eyes staring back at him. He would read the words why not you, and there was no reason, because he became Rav Mordechai Gifter, Telzer Rosh Yeshiva, one of the gedolei Yisrael (leaders of the Jewish People).

And here is the point: the ability to look in the mirror and ask yourself what are my G-d-given talents, strengths, and abilities and then to have people that you look up to, people who became great in many different areas, and ask yourself what are my strengths, what are my talents, what are my abilities, and why aren’t I aspiring for greatness? Why aren’t I setting my sights high? But you have to look in that mirror, you have to stare at the eyes looking back at you, and you have to say to yourself G-d did not put me here to just whatever, to make some money, spend that money, make some more money, spend that money, and then we die. G-d gave me talents, strengths, abilities. I have to look in that mirror, identify them clearly and set my sights high. Use people who are heroes, people who are my icons, people who I look to for inspiration, and I have to ask myself why not you. And I have to set my goals very high and set myself to reach them.