Large Small Self

June 23, 2024, Israel

Ever notice that there are days, or situations, were we become a better version of ourselves? And then there are days where the grumpy irritated small-minded person comes out?  I had always heard this phenomenon referred to as getting up on the wrong side of the bed. But then a friend referred to it as your "Large self", and your "Small self". Suddenly I became aware of myself, of my behavior, of my better days and worse days. 

There were days when things were going my way, I felt on top of the world, seminars were being booked, payments came in on time, the sun was shining upon me. On such days I was more forgiving, if the driver in front of me was driving too slowly, let it be. If someone was smoking outside the airport, let it pass. If a person was being particularly stupid, or obtuse, it is OK, be patient. And then there are days when I feel I must right the wrongs of the world, justifiably. If you parked in a way that took up two spaces and prevented others from being able to park, I would point it out. If you were not following the norms, the rules, the accepted standard, such as standing on the right side of the escalator so that those walking could get by freely, I point that out. (In Hong Kong I was very impressed that everyone followed this rule very strictly and it led to order, despite the massive number of people, In New York I was impressed with "let them off first", everyone waits until the passengers get off the train, and only then new passeanger board the train). In my Small self I can be the worlds' best corrections officer. 

I believe strongly that in society there are correct behaviors and incorrect behaviors, and if the parents have not taught their children, someone should point this out. But, we should maintain our Large Selvs and not sink into our Small Selvs. 

There are days when we are the better, or best, version of ourselves, and there are certainly days where we covered by dark clouds, that is unavoidable, but I believe we must try to bring out our Large Self as often as possible. The starting point is the awareness that they both exist within us. Sometimes I catch myself and say, Moshe, don't be your small self, be your Large self.

It is told of the great Hasidic rabbi, the Baal Shem Tov (Possessor of a good name), that when both clocks in his home, the Large clock and the Small clock stopped, he would leave this dimension and enter into the next dimension.

First, the Large clock stopped, soon after, the small clock would stop.

And then, when the Baal Shem Tov returned from the bathroom and washed his hands, the large clock stopped. And the people and students surrounding him tried to hide it from him so that he wouldn’t see that it had stopped.

The Baal Shem Tov said to them: ‘I know the clock has stopped, and I am not worried, for I know with certainty that when I leave through this door, I will immediately enter another.’

The Hasidic tale continues:

The Baal Shem Tov sat on a bed and asked for his students to stand around it. He shared Torah lessons with them. The Baal Shem Tov said that there was a pillar used to ascend from the lower Garden of Eden to the higher Garden of Eden, which exists in every world. And that pillar exists in every person at all times.

I believe that what the great mystical rabbi was referring to was our Large self and our Small self. These exist within each of us, at all times. We have our own Garden of Eden contained within ourselves. And we need to find our pillar to ascend from the lower garden/self to the higher garden/self. 

This is an ongoing work, a daily challenge. Find your greater self. This self can admit mistakes, forgive others and forgive ourselves, this self can truly grow. 


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

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