Rabbi Yisrael Salanter
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
תלמוד ירושלמי פאה
רַ בִּי לִּ יעֶזֶר הֲוָה פַרְ נָס .חַד זְמַן נְח ִּית לְבֵיתֵ יּה ,אֲמַר לֹון :מַאי עַבְ דִּיתּון ?אֲמָרּו לֵיּה :אֲתָ א חַד סִּיעָא וְַאכְלּון ּושְתֹון וְצַלּון עֲלְָך .אֲֲמַר לֹון :לֵיכָא אֲגַר טָב!
נְחַת זְמַן תֲִּינְיָין ,אֲמַר לֹון :מַאי עַבְדִּיתּון ?אֲמָרּו לֵיּה :אֲתָ א חַד סִּיעָא חֹורֵ י וְַאכְלּון ּושְתֹון וְַאקְלּונְַך .אֲמַר לֹון :כְדֹון אִּיכָא אֲגַר טָב!
Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Pe’ah 8:7:21a
Rabbi Li’ezer was a charity administrator. One time, he came home and asked the members of his household, “What work did you do?” They said to him, “A group of poor people came, and they ate and they drank and they prayed for your well-being.” [R. Li’ezer] said to them, “This is not a good reward!”
He came [home] a second time and asked the members of his household, “What work did you do?” They said to him, “A different group of poor people came, and they ate and they drank and they cursed you.” [R. Li’ezer] said to them, “Now this is a good reward!”