“I do not want followers who are righteous; rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad.”
~ Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Nineteenth century Hasidic Rabbi Menachem Mendel’s words remind us that righteousness is not won by trying to be righteous. Rather it is something else, perhaps more like a byproduct of pursuing that which is good. Not a doing of good to be seen by others which is self-righteousness, but rather, doing good out of respect for others created with inalienable rights and thus deserving of respect. The Shema and the Golden Rule, present foundational truths that set us on a path to a meaningful life, a life that some would call righteous.
There are those who are righteous, who have no idea they are righteous. They live simple lives in keeping with their faith, values and morals. They would be horrified to be spoken of as righteous, for they are keenly aware of their frailties and foibles. Yet they have enriched our lives, not because they accomplished great feats but because they loved greatly in the ordinary activities of life.
Could our lives be marked by a relentless pursuit of good? Could our lives be marked by a love of neighbor that sees them as people worthy of respect? Final question, what are we “busy doing?” Good, I hope.
Thanks for your service and sacrifice.