Be the Best!

It’s true there may be only one ‘Best Picture’ a year, but my Russian immigrant grandfather – I called him ‘Zaydie’ – understood there is never only one ‘Best Grandchild.’ This is what Zaydie accomplished in telling each of his nine grandchildren we were the ‘best boy’ or ‘best girl’ in the United States of America. In calling us ‘the best,’ we were called to be the best. The message was: Aspire to be the best human being you can be. And isn’t that the best goal of a life well-lived?”

I have thought a lot about Zaydie calling me “the best boy in the United States of America.” Was Voltaire correct when he said “The best is the enemy of the good?” If there is only one “best,” does everyone else rank second? Isn’t “good enough” good enough?

I’ve been watching Jimmy Fallon as he has reshaped “The Tonight Show” in his own image. I never watched him on his Late Night show, but he has become a huge hit at 11:35 pm. He seems to know everyone, calling his guests “pal,” “buddy,” and, often, “the best!” For some, this may seem disingenuous. But, from everything I’ve read about Fallon, he appears genuinely likable, a good guy, and the celebrities who come to plug their projects enjoy the crazy games and silly sketches they get to do with their host. One thing is undeniable: Fallon is extraordinarily enthusiastic about nearly everything – ergo, he says to so many of his guests “You’re the best!”

Zaydie’s use of this term of endearment was a bit different. Calling us “the best” was not just a statement; it was an imperative. In so many ways, this barely literate man understood that his adopted, beloved country was a place that each of his grandchildren could work hard to be “the best” we could be, to make the effort to maximize our God-given gifts and talents, to succeed in whatever we set ourselves out to do or to become. In this sense, his call to us was an embodiment of the famous teaching of Rabbi Zusya, who, when facing death, told his students he was unafraid that God would ask him: “Why were you not Moses?” Zusya admitted, however: “I am afraid God will ask me; ‘Why were you not Zusya?'” Why were you not the best you you could be?

Certainly, being a “good you” is great. But, aspiring to be the “best you” is a noble aspiration. I’m curious. How did your grandparents or parents inspire you to be the best you you could be? Please share your story in the Comments section below.

Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy the book!

You’re the Best!


2 comments to Be the Best!


    I absolutely LOVED this book. It was fun, funny, sweet, sad, honest (Ron is always honest) and I could NOT put it down. It made me confront my religion and make some changes!!!

  • Bob Wolfson

    A must read. My big brother captures our family, love, humor and deep humanity. A real joy. Read this book!

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