Story: It’s Not All About You

A new edition of Advice for Life: Daily Life was recently published. With a fresh design and additional material, it makes a great coffee table book and gift. In honor of the occasion, we present a story that appears in the new edition:

Marc Wilson was facing a dark period in his life after the collapse of his second marriage and the disintegration of his rabbinical career. Shortly after, he headed to New York, where he met the Rebbe and discussed his plans to devote more time to writing.

The Rebbe advised, “Sometimes a devoted layperson can do incalculably more good than a rabbi.”

The Rebbe added, “They say that you were once a student of Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik. I am making a gift to charity in the hope that you make peace with him.” Rabbi Soloveitchik had been Marc’s teacher at the Hebrew Theological College in Chicago, Illinois, and the two had a rocky relationship.

For Marc, the Rebbe’s words had a deep impact.

Over the years, Marc’s depression deepened, and eventually he was spending most of his day watching television from bed. Life, he felt, left him no options. He would pen articles about his dark life. Marc surmised, “There are plenty of depressed people who like reading stories about depressed people.”

On his next visit to Crown Heights, the Rebbe instructed Marc, “You should teach.”

“The Rebbe obviously understood,” said Marc, “that to heal from depression, I needed to start giving to others.”

However, the following year likewise passed in a depressive blur in which Marc did not heed the Rebbe’s counsel. Again he found himself at the Rebbe’s door.

The Rebbe then suggested: “You should teach. Anything, perhaps Talmud, even if it is only to one or two people in your living room.”

Soon afterwards Marc began to lead a class in Talmud, and his life was altered forever.

The new book was dedicated in memory of Rabbi Mottel Sharfstein, whose life encapsulated every lesson the book aims to teach. Honest and humble, filled with love for family and all people, dedicated to Torah and Mitzvahs, he embraced life and made every moment count.

The book is available on Amazon ( or in bulk from

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