If I Am Not for Myself, Who Will I Be For?

200228 Rabbi Hillel


If I am not for myself, who will I be for?

If I am only for myself, what am I?

If not now, when?


Rabbi Hillel a Jewish religious leader, sage and scholar

What do you think this might mean?

Here are some of my thoughts.

Life is bigger than one person.

There is a Zulu phrase brought to the global vocabulary by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He speaks of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu means "I am, because you are". The word ubuntu is part of the Zulu phrase "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu", which literally means that a person is a person through other people.


On the one hand we must speak for ourselves while on the other hand also acknowledging that our world exists with other people who have the right to speak for themselves too. They have the right to have their needs acknowledged and met – just as they must know that I too have a right to have my needs acknowledged and met. I ‘exist’ on my own and at the same time my person hood is created through of you and yours through me.

If I think only about myself what do I become? If I think only about myself what do I make myself?

When do I live my life with Ubuntu?

Rabbi Hillel tells us - “If not now, when?”

Ubuntu Mother of my child

Ubuntu Father of my child

Ubuntu my Child


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