I wish I could be like Roger Federer!

Roger Federer is truly one of the great tennis players of all time. I watched the Australian Open final and emerged inspired. What a man! He has all the skills of good sportsmanship and professionalism while retaining his humility and graciousness. When discussing the match with a friend this week, the friend responded: “I wish I could be half as good as Federer!” 

It made me think of King Solomon’s statement: “Do not stand in the place of the great.” Why? Not because by stepping into the shoes of the great, you will be robbing somebody else of his or her place of greatness. Rather, by doing so, you will be denying yourself your own individual process, the one that is great for you. Real people are inspired by other people but never copy them.

Of course, there are moments you must take a big jump that may initially seem frightening. But we must not overstep the mark. We must ensure that these big steps enhance our true identity rather than crush it; that they embody our inner calling, mission and power, not an enlarged perception of other people’s standards and behaviours.

So instead of wanting to be exactly like our heroes, let’s be inspired by their attributes to better ourselves, but in our own way.

“To Thine Own Self Be True” is especially true when it comes to our religious and spiritual lives. G-d wants you to be you, not me. He won’t hold you to account for not being like someone else. Rather, He wants you to be real and honest with yourself – to be the best YOU that you can be.

Wishing you and your families Shabbat shalom!

Rabbi Yossi Friedman