Kenneth Cohen

Reaching Our Full Potential

The Chidishei Ha’rim reminds us that, as Jews, we must always feel that we are a part of the greater whole. We must see how we might be able to help the plight of the Jewish people.

Pirkei Avot speaks of the importance of not separating from the community. There might be instances that demand of us that we “get involved” to help in any way that we can.

This is said with the realization that every individual is given his own unique talents. He was created to perform a specific role that others could not. His G-d given abilities were meant to be used to make the world a better place.

Nevertheless, he must not shut himself off while he focuses on his personal talents.

This is where Pirkei Avot again, clarifies this point beautifully. “If I am not for myself, who will be there for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?” We must care and feel the pain of others, and do what we can to lighten the load of the less fortunate.

At the same time, we are not allowed to ignore our own personal destiny. “Man was created to strive.” The message of the Chidushei Ha’rim is that this striving includes our reaching our full potential, as well as doing all we can to help make the world a better place.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at