There’s an ancient Jewish teaching that says that every human being should carry in their pockets two pieces of paper: on one of them you should write the words “For my sake was the world created” On the other you should write: “I am but dust and ashes.”
The teaching continues telling you to reach for each these papers at the moment that you are feeling the opposite. So when you are feeling lowly or depressed, discouraged or overwhelmed, you should pull from your pocket the paper that says “the world was created for my sake.” And when you are feeling high and mighty, superior and arrogant, you should pull from your pocket the paper that says “dust and ashes are all that I am.”...
But there’s another pair — hinted at by the pair that I’ve already mentioned — that I’d also advise you to have on hand.
So here’s another version of the parable. Every human being should carry in their pockets two pieces of paper: on one of them you should write the words “All others experience the world as I do.” On the other you should write: “My perspective is mine alone.”
There are moments that you will need to pull each of these from your pockets: there are times when you will assume too much commonality with those around you, and times when you will assume too little....
So keep those contradictions in your pockets:
“For my sake was the world created”
“I am but dust and ashes”
The rest of the speech includes some interpretations of her four texts, including a bunch from cool psychology experiments, so click through for more. (And, yeah, a rather cringe-worthy amount about how fabulous Yale is, how fabulous the Yale class is, how the old the buildings are -- precisely what you'd expect from a welcoming speech to a fancy college, I suppose (though I went to an equally fancy college and I don't recall ever getting anything of the sort) and perfectly reasonable under the circumstances and flat-out hard to take, so don't click through unless you have a strong stomach for this sort of thing.) But ultimately what is fabulous about those pairs of sentences is that they are richer than pretty much any midrash that will be done about them. Tamar's is, as befits the author of two of them, fabulous; but there's a lot more two. It's what good koans are for, I suppose.“My perspective is mine alone”And when circumstances require, pull them from your pockets and read them aloud to yourself.
“All others experience the world as I do”