This story popped up in my email recently:
A tailor, trying to drum up business, put a sign in front of his shop: "I'm the best tailor in Poland." His competitor, next door, countered the claim by putting out a sign which said "I'm the best tailor in Europe." Not to be outdone, a third tailor, down the block, put out a sign with a far more modest claim: "I'm the best tailor on this street."
It's a silly little story, but it got me to thinking...
A number of years ago there was a lawsuit threatened in New York City because two shops on the same block of Broadway had "World's Best Coffee" signs. Both owners apparently agreed there could be a world's best coffee. They differed on how a person would determine which coffee it was.
Similar items appear before Mother's Day, and I'm sure they will be back pre-Father's Day: a plethora of mugs and shirts proclaiming "World's Best Mom / Dad." Like the coffee lawsuit, that's a tough claim to prove. I wondered (I was a philosophy major in college, it's just who I am), if there really is just one "world's best x," why did the mug and t-shirt company produce so many?
As I was contemplating that greater question, it occurred to me that anyone who tries to live or prove that claim, being "world's best," is missing the point. Even in sports, where everything is measured, holding a world's record is usually fleeting. Working to measure ourselves against others in order to earn the title "world's best" can be draining. Can any of us truly be "the world's best ...?"
I'd suggest we set a simpler goal - simpler but still not an easy one - to be the best that we can be. Instead of measuring ourselves against everyone (or even anyone) a more reasonable goal would be a focus on being a bit better than we are now at whatever we're doing.
Rather than asking "Am I the best parent/partner/friend in the world?" we should ask ourselves, "Have I been a better parent/partner/friend this week than I was last week?"
That's an accomplishable goal.
Also accomplishable is Shavuot at TAY.
On Tuesday evening, we have a study session with presentations by Jeff Scheer, Esa Jaffe, Susie Drazen and, if it's not too late, me.
On Wednesday morning, we're unrolling a Torah scroll from start to finish. Yizkor is recited at services
on Thursday morning. Hope to see you with us.