The Journey To Self

Similar wisdom from two very different sources:

From Carl Jung: “If you do not acknowledge your yearning, then you do not follow yourself, but go on foreign ways that others have indicated to you. So you do not live your life but an alien one. But who should live your life if you do not live it? It is not only stupid to exchange your life for an alien one, but also a hypocritical game, because you can never really live the life of others, you can only pretend to do it, deceiving the other and yourself, since you can only live your own life.”

This comment of Jung’s was said more tartly more than a century before by the Kotzker Rebbe: “If I spend my time being someone else, who will be me?”

Our selves are partly given and partly constructed by our own choices. God’s initial command to Abraham, “Lech Lecha,” can be understood not simply as “go forth” but as “go to yourself.” The Torah is teaching how difficult it is to discover who you are. Self-discovery is a lifelong journey and the Torah is not only a path to move through the world, but a guide to exploring the self. No one else, after all, will be you; why waste the God-given opportunity? n

Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings at

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.