In adolescence I aimed to change the world — to right the wrongs of humanity on a global scale. I envisioned an end to war, oppression, injustice, and strife.
Soon I realized that I would have to change my own community first. Only after succeeding here, could I hope to impact upon the world. So I set out to improve education, mediate quarrels, and introduce proper priorities into local politics.
Finally, I saw that my real work was with my family. I must begin by changing and perfecting those closest to me — my wife and children.
Only later did I see that my true focus of effort must be myself — that to become a kind and decent human being was a life’s worth of work. And if, with the grace and assistances of G-d, I could succeed in this most difficult of tasks, I would be making the greatest of all possible contributions to my family, community, and even to the world.
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter