To Be True to the Situation of Where You Are

Excerpt from "Opening Up Windows," a conversation with Rabbi David Hartman, On Being, September 22, 2011:


There's the famous saying in the Mishnah: "Lo alecha ham'lacha ligmor." "It's not upon you to finish the job, nor are you free to desist from it." And know one thing: that the master is very, very demanding. "Hayom katzer" — the day is short, but the work is great.

If you went to my school, the major question was how are you using your time? What have you made of yourself in the gift that you've received?

On one level, I hate time because it's moving. I say, "Hold it, kid. I want to live a little longer." I want to be around. I love life. I love people. I don't know why. They're not so nice [laughs], but I have that — when I see a little kindness of somebody, I see a tear in his eye. It opens me up.

I need people to take me out of a locked room and let me breath alternative pictures. Interesting, never thought of it that way. And if people could go through life feeling that there's a lot that they don't know, as William James said, the whole truth has not been given to one person. It's enough to be true to the section that you have, to be true to the situation of where you are and [to see] what your existential situation enables you to see -- and to see a world talking that way and listening [that way]. It would be nice, no?

Listen to the conversation here...