Minute #647: Copy Cat

Jonathan had a great desire to succeed and worked hard to develop his talents. His inquisitive nature made him a reservoir of information. Probably the most important aspect of his personality was his ability to “copy.” If Jonathan saw someone who had flourished, he tried to copy all that s/he did to achieve success. He could mimic famous singers and imitate the style of great athletes.

You could say Jonathan was a good copy cat. He admired the Chinese because they had an uncanny ability to duplicate most anything that one gave them. “If I wanted a few of me,” he would quip, “I’d send myself to China and ask them to make a few dozen! I’m sure what they send back will be at least as good as the original!”

Many people mimic those who are achievers. In some respects, that’s a good quality. However, it depends on what one copies. In the world of the material, being neat and clean, eating healthy and staying fit are admirable qualities. Working honestly to provide for one’s dependents and being prompt also are high on the list. Creating a home/work environment that is comfortable in order to facilitate service to Hashem are also pursuits that are meritorious.

When one enters the realm of the spiritual, one is encouraged to copy the successful. Serving one’s Rav — shimush chachamim — is considered the highest form of learning. Envy of a matmid — one who uses every free moment for learning — is considered a key ingredient in Torah learning.

Harav Simchah Zissel wrote: “When one hears of a virtue another has attained, it’s good to clarify how they did it. When people hear someone has made a small fortune, they try to find out his path to success so they, too, can try to duplicate the achievement. In spiritual matters, also, try to learn from the successes of others” (Chochmah U’mussar, vol. 1, 202).

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

One who is friendly and greets others warmly will naturally widen his circle of friends. In addition, he will achieve easy acceptance and admiration. (Rabbi Yisrael Lipshutz, Tiferet Yisrael, Avot 1:17, 60)