My father, Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, needs no introduction from me. You can start learning about him from his far more popular blog on this very site. But in honor of his upcoming 59th birthday (Hebrew, of course), I thought I might mention a few of the many things I’ve learned from him.
The first is determination in achieving one’s goals, no matter what the setbacks. In 1984, my father declared that we would move to Israel in two years. We often joke in the family how those two years became nine. However, unlike many other, my father spent those nine years constantly looking for ways to secure a job in Israel and never forgetting his love of the country. This was a goal he intended to achieve come what may, and he stuck to it regardless of the difficulties.
Another thing I’ve learned from him is the importance of constantly reaffirming that which is important to you. These days, we always want our entertainment and education, divrei Torah included, to always innovate, always say something new. But while fun, such a method often ensures we easily forget each lesson as it is replaced by something “cooler” and more exciting. By repeating a few key lessons over and over, my Dad gave us lessons that were of lasting value.
One of those lessons I have most taken to heart has to do with the true meaning of humility. Too often, Jews and others think humility is thinking you are worthless. My Dad had a different perspective, taken from the Netziv: true humility means honestly acknowledging exactly what you are not and what you are. To deny either is not only false, but arrogance.
That are but a few of the many lessons I’ve learned from my Dad so far. I’m sure I’ll learn many more.
Happy Birthday, Abba!