"One Caramel Macchiato..."

Thursday, 21 August, 2014 - 12:30 pm

 Many have set out to change the world. Wicked tyrants, wealthy tycoons, generous philanthropists—all people with big-time aspirations and who either swing a big stick or a mighty checkbook.  

However, the Rambam (Maimonides) takes another approach to the ‘Change the World’ idea. He writes, loosely translated : A person should always see the world as hanging in balance, with you–the individual, and your individual act, as having the power to change the World’s destiny to the ‘Good Side’.

Me…My mitzvah…Change the world?!

Talk about megalomania!

Which reminds me of a story told of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter, who as a confident young Rabbi declared, “I’m going to change the world!”

Then he rethought, “The world is an awfully big place—that’s impossible!”

Setting a more reasonable goal, the Rabbi decided to merely change his country, only to realize that even that goal was impossible. Then he thought about changing his town, his neighborhood, and finally his own household--each time resigning himself to the fact that changing them was beyond the limits of his control.

Finally, the Rabbi came to the realization that all that was in his control was the ability to change was himself.

 “Aha!”, he exclaimed. “But if I change myself, then I may in fact influence my household, which may in fact change my neighborhood, and perhaps the town, the country…and one never knows—maybe the World.”

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was later famous for his teachings of Mussar, a system of ethical and moral conduct.

At 7am this past Wednesday morning, at a Starbucks in S. Petersburg, FL, a lady pulled up at the drive-thru window and asked to pay for a ‘caramel macchiato’ for the stranger in the car behind her. With this small kind act, a ‘pay it forward’ chain of 378 customers was started, which lasted until 6pm--as each person covered the drink of the customer behind them.

Perhaps all it takes to change the world is a couple of (Star) bucks, and a desire to share with others.

Now, let’s go change the world.

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