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Want to be famous? Look inside

Would you like to be famous?

If you’d ask me if I want to be famous, my first answer would be absolutely not.

I feel really bad for all those celebrities who can’t step a foot outside their house without being recognized, asked for a picture or worse yet being followed by paparazzi.

So why do so many people want to be famous – and are willing to do some crazy things to get that fame? And, to be very honest, although I don’t want to be one, there is something very attractive about being famous. What is it?

Here is one possible answer.

Fame gives us a strong sense of validation. After all, almost every human being has moments of self doubts. Fame and public adulation provide us with constant reminders that we are worthy and important.

About twenty years ago, I had the great privilege to publish a biography (in Hebrew) about Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneersohn, the Rebbe’s wife, of righteous memory. I spent many hours researching, and reading interviews, first-person encounters and stories about her. Almost all of them spoke about her exceptional modesty.

Think about it. As the Rebbe’s wife, she could have been showered with respect and honors. Instead, she didn’t want to be treated differently. So much so, that even when she shopped, The Rebbetzin would intently choose only stores where she would be anonymous.

But don’t confuse modesty with weakness. The Rebbetzin was a powerful woman.

So many people who met her viewed their meetings as life transforming.

And in many ways, Chabad’s global reach today is only thanks to her. For many months after the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe passed away, the Rebbe refused to become the successor, as he didn’t feel worthy enough to fill in his father in law’s shoes. It was the Rebbetzin’s persuasion that eventually gave the world the gift of the Rebbe’s vision and impact. In her gentle but powerful way, she was able to influence one of the most consequential decisions to Jewish life today.

The Rebbetzin didn’t seek outside fame because she didn’t need the outside validation. Instead, her strength was flowing from within: from her inner fountain of faith, courage and dedication to the Jewish people.

As I will be lighting a Yahrzeit candle on her Yahrtzeit (this Sunday night), I hope to be inspired by the Rebbetzin. In a world that is increasingly focused on celebrities and famous people, I hope to remember what a true celebrity looks like and to try to follow her example.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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