Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on Powerful Books, Mystics, and More | The Tim Ferriss Show | Transcription
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That's helixheelix.com/tim for up to $200 off. Check it out one more time. Helixheelixsleep.com/tim. This episode is brought to you by FreshBooks, thousands of listeners and a lot of the contractors I use and my readers use FreshBooks. If you've been thinking about turning your part time side business into a full time small business or big business, for that matter, you may be feeling some extra uncertainty these days and that's obviously completely natural. There are a lot of questions that can come up. How do you create a professional appearance and experience? Who can help you with support? How do you manage the billing and all of that, but still focus on the primary work of your business and on growing your business? FreshBooks is an all-in-one invoicing and accounting solution. It does a lot more than that. That helps you take your business from part time to full time and it only takes minutes to set up. 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I guess today I wanted to have on for a very long time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at Rabbi Sacks on All Social. He is an international religious leader, philosopher and respected moral voice. He was the chief rabbi of the UK in the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, and the recipient of the 2016 Templeton Prize in recognition of his exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension. And if you're looking for some hope amidst the fear these days, some light in the darkness of uncertainty, my hope is that this episode provides some much-needed medicine. Rabbi Sacks has been described by his royal highness, the Prince of Wales, as a light unto this nation and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as an intellectual giant. He is an award-winning author of more than 30 books, just incredible, including Not In God's Name. His new book, Morality, subtitle, Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, recently became a bestseller in the UK and it is now available in North America. He is a frequent and sought-after contributor to radio television and the international press and a renowned public speaker for reasons that will be very obvious once we get into the conversation. And he has degrees from both Cambridge and Oxford universities, as well as 18, count them 18 honorary degrees. He was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen in 2005 and took his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009. Born in 1948 in London, he's been married to his wife Elaine since 1970. They have three children and several grandchildren. You can find him at rabbisacks.org on all social at Rabbi Sacks. Without further ado, please enjoy this wide-ranging conversation that I so much enjoyed with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Rabbi Sacks' Personal Anecdotes And View On Mysticism
The significance of the yellow tie. (06:38)
Rabbi Sacks, welcome to the show. Tim, great to be with you. I'm so thrilled to finally connect. I have pages and pages and stacks and stacks of questions for you. We'll see how much we can get to. And I wanted to start with a perhaps unusual starting point, and that is asking about yellow ties. I found under the category of strange habits, a note from your wife of 50 years in the Times UK, he always wears a yellow tie when he's due to give important speeches or on special occasions. So I wouldn't expect you to wear one right now, but is there any truth to that statement? And could you elaborate if so? 100%. Tim, I always used to wear silver ties. It's a kind of dignified thing that ministers of religion do, and I had a huge, but huge collection of silver ties. Then at a certain point in time, I'm not sure whether it was 2016 or a little earlier than that the world began to fall apart. And that was when I realized that part of my job was not just to speak or to write, but to cheer people up. And I think little miss or little Mr. cheerful has to be colored yellow. So I thought wearing a yellow tie cheers people up, and by and large, consciously or subconsciously it does. However, you know, I also do something else. I must have about 50 yellow ties. But when I'm doing a really, really difficult speech, I will wear a yellow tie that was given to me by a very close friend. My friends noticing that I wear yellow ties tend to make a present of a yellow tie. And when I feel I am wearing something that a friend gave me in love, you know, it just makes the speech so much easier. But can I tell you, Tim, about the yellow tie that I wore when you and I did Ted together in Vancouver three years ago? Yes, please. You know, there's a kind of rehearsal for Ted Talks about a month in advance. It takes place in Chelsea in New York near Chris Anderson's apartment. And just before me, there was a gentleman practicing his speech. A gentleman called Ray Dalio, who's been on your show, I think. Ray is the head of the world's largest hedge fund, I think. And Ray, who is a hugely wise and brilliant and a successful man and a very open man, was absolutely devastated. He was in a state of real nerves during the rehearsal. So I was shaking as I went up to deliver my speech. And I delivered my rehearsal. And Chris Anderson at the end said, "Johnathan, I like the speech. But what about the tie?" Because apparently no one wears a tie at Ted. I said, "Chris, I have read the instructions and I have met you halfway. You will see that I am not wearing long dangling earrings." Isn't that good enough? Anyway, eventually Chris and I reached a compromise, which was that I would wear my yellow tie for my Ted speech. And as soon as that was over, I d tied and remained tireless for the rest of Ted.
A devils bargain. (10:26)
I so enjoyed meeting you at Ted. And I just have to share a quick anecdote, which is somewhat similar. So at Ted itself, I remember they had constructed, they called it something like the Zen Room or the relaxation room, which was basically the on deck circle for the next few speakers by the stage. And I went out there to relax at one point because of the namesake. And I remember I think it was Gary Kasparov or Kasparov. And a few other icons were just sweating bullets. And I said to myself, "If I try to relax here, I'm going to have a complete nervous breakdown." So I shuffled off to some corner to prepare. What a day that was. Seems lifetimes ago. And the next hop is going to be a bit non-linear, of course, because that's the way these conversations tend to go. I d like to revisit a line from your profile. And thank you so much for answering so many questions for Tribot Mentors, my last book. And the question was about your purchase of $100 or less that has most positively impacted your life in the last, say, six months. And the answer is interesting, but not as interesting as the line that explains it. Your answer at the time was without a shadow of a doubt buying noise-cancelling earphones bows in this case. And the line that I want to explore is these are the most religious objects I have ever come across because I define faith as the ability to hear the music beneath the noise. And I had never heard or read anyone define faith that way. And I don't know if that definition has changed for you, but could you speak to what you mean by that? And how you arrived at that, perhaps? What I mean is incidentally, you'll call me back on that, Tim, because I felt bad about it from that day to this, because actually noise-cancelling earphones cost a little more than $100. So I will give you one that really only costs $10. But what I mean is this, when we look at what happens to us, so much of it is noise, stuff that happens and doesn't seem to add up or make sense in any way. Somebody once asked Harold McMillan, the British Prime Minister in the 1950s, what is the biggest challenge of being Prime Minister? And he replied, "Events, dear boy, events." So there's so much going on and you are buffeted by this wind, this whirlwind of swirling pressures, and life can come to seem, as the book of Ecclesiastes calls it, meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless. Faith is the ability to go deeper than that, and to sense the real wonders, the miracles that surround us. The very existence of the universe is unbelievably improbable. The very existence of life is even more improbable. The most distinguished mathematician in Britain, Lord Reese, the astronomer of the Royal Society, once gave me his book called "Just Six Numbers", in which he argues that the entire existence of the universe depends on six improbabilities. And when you sense the majesty of existence, of life, of beauty, of nature, of the human person, of love, of becoming a parent, those are the things we tend to miss because we're so preoccupied by the noise. And if we could find a way of generating a noise reduction system in our minds, we would actually see and sense the beauty of life. Now, I once said to Richard Dawkins, who my regard as a beloved friend, but he is pretty angry atheist, and I once said to Richard, you know, "Richard, your problem is you are tone deaf. You can't hear the music." He gave me a lovely reply. He said, "Yes, it's true. I am tone deaf, but there is no music." So there we are. I think that's the difference really between Richard and myself, that I can hear the music and that music you'll find in the book of Psalms.
In praise of small things. (15:19)
You'll hear that music in great poetry and the solids of Shakespeare. You'll hear that music in Beethoven and in Schubert, and I love it, and it's mystical and it's terrific. And I find that, you know, wearing those noise-cancelling earphones, not just good on planes. It's really good for meditation. So I want to tie up one tiny loose end before I go to my next related question, but you said, "I'll give you one that costs less than $10." What is the purchase of less than $10? Is there something else that is positively impacted? Absolutely fabulous thing. A book light. I love them and I've got lots of them now. A book light allows me to read anywhere at night. It allows me to go around the house without switching the lights on and hence waking up. It allows me to read without waking my wife Elaine. It's a perfect, perfect, you know, form and function. It's absolutely magnificent. Less than $10. Very easy to recharge. And my book light is the joy of my life. Beautiful. And we will explore books in many capacities in this conversation, I suspect. You mentioned earlier that part of your job or you viewed part of your job is cheering people up. And I want to unfurl that a bit because I think there's a lot there. You also have already mentioned and I brought up music, you seem to have been sensitive. You have been sensitive to music since a very literal music since a very young age. And in one of the many different articles that I read prior to this conversation, I found a quote which you can please feel free to correct. The quote to you reads as follows. There's a sadness in Jewish music, a kind of minor key that I heard when I was two or three years old. And then it went on later. It's an existential sadness that I can't eliminate. However hard I try. That's probably what allows me to communicate with people who are unhappy. So first I was like to ask, does this sound like something you said or does it have truth to it? And if so, could you expand on it? The first two to three years of my life, we didn't have our own home. We lived with my grandparents and my grandfather, who was a businessman, he had a wine shop. Also actually owned a synagogue. It was very tiny little synagogue, but it was just down the road from where we were living. And that was my first experience of synagogue life. And I imagine that almost every single person in that synagogue was a refugee. I mean this is early 1950s. They'd come in from the war. My late father's family and he himself came from Poland. So you had people who had been through the most searing experiences, had encountered absolute dislocations. In some cases lost their families. In all cases, we're struggling to make themselves at home in a new land. My father's favorite line from the Bible was Moses calling his son Gersham saying, "I'm a stranger in a strange land." And that's what my father felt. And you could hear that sadness in the music of the synagogue. And it was my first encounter with music, my first encounter with synagogue music, with music as prayer. And I find it there in most Jewish music, not all Jewish music, but most of it. And it comes from century after century after century of suffering. Now of course you can break out beyond that, but it's just there. I don't know if you feel it in those three great traditions. But I think Jewish musicians of the 20th century, the late, learned Kallen and to some extent Bob Dylan and to some extent Paul Simon. Not really, you don't really feel it, but I feel it still in things like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. There is a powerful note of sadness there that to my mind is part of the signature of being Jewish. Do you find that sadness in you to be enabling, more enabling or disabling in your ability to help others and to affect change in the world?
The grounding influence of Rabbis wife, Elaine. (20:06)
Fifty years ago, I met and married, well, 52 years ago, I met and 50 years ago I married Elaine. And Elaine is the most, she is sunshine. I mean, that's just what she is. And we were completely different people. I actually said this in TED. I said that I recognized somebody who is totally and absolutely different from me. And I said it's the people not like us who make us grow. So without Elaine, I might have become a very sad human being, a depressive human being. But to be married to somebody that profoundly positive, not in a superficial way at all, but somebody just affirming of life and always seeing the positive possibilities of any situation. Nothing ever got Elaine down. And it was that relationship, that love, that marriage that kept me from being overwhelmed by the sadness.
Why Rabbi Sacter chose and recommends The Choice. (21:06)
You've mentioned before, and I think in some respects, this is on a similar theme of transmuting pain or sadness into something useful in the world. You've mentioned that one of the most inspirational books you've read is The Choice. This is a book that fewer people will recognize compared to say some of Victor Frankl's work. But could you please describe the choice and why it is meaningful to you? Well, you know, this book came out not that long ago. I don't know how many years ago, maybe four or five years ago, I don't know. But it came out and I didn't recognize the name at all. And here was another whole course book in there. Tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of them. And I try and read some, but I can't possibly read all. But this was getting such positive reviews. It became a bestseller in the States and then actually became a bestseller here in Britain as well. I thought I must read this. And as I read it, I could not believe what I was reading because this was Edith Eager's first book. And she was 90 years old. And she was, in essence, a female Victor Frankl. Not quite Victor Frankl in the sense that Victor Frankl already worked out his entire response to evil and to grief. While he was in Auschwitz, it took Edith some years to come to terms with it. She had to go back there. She had to wrestle with it. But she did eventually wrestle with it and became a psychotherapist like Victor Frankl. And then helped people cope with situations of the kind that she had coped with in the concentration camps. And what Edith actually went through, which is more than Victor Frankl did, was not just Auschwitz, but the death march immediately after the Germans left Auschwitz. They forced any prisoner who could walk to join the death march and most of them died on the way and read her account of that as she was actually kept alive only by the fact that her sister was there and two of them kept their respective spirits. But it's almost impossible to imagine anyone surviving those kind of horrendous conditions and that kind of evil. And yet somehow she worked it through and she used that experience to work through the pain, the fears, the anxieties of other people. And essentially her philosophy was very, very simple and not unlike Victor Frankl's, which is whatever happens to us. We always have a choice. We always have a choice as to how to see ourselves in relation to what's happening to us. Nobody can take away our mind. Nobody can take away how we define the situation. And it is that choice that's the very essence of human freedom, liberty and dignity. And of course, in the book she talks not only about her experiences in Auschwitz, but how she used those to deal with her patients on the West Coast in the United States. I found this an astonishingly inspiring book. Just when you thought that it was very little new to be learned from the Holocaust, here was the story of this extraordinary woman.
The meeting that changed his life. (24:45)
I've enjoyed following you over the years since we first met. And I also came into this interview feeling quite insecure in a sense because I have on one hand at one end of the spectrum amongst my friends, people like Sam Harris, who I love dearly, a great friend. On the other end of the spectrum, I have deeply religious friends, but I know very little about religion. I don't self describe as someone who is particularly religious. How did you choose to become a rabbi? I understand the family background, but I'm looking at some of the notes in front of me. And I don't know if this is accurate, but it seems that you perhaps thought at some point that you were going to become an economist or a lawyer. How and why become a rabbi? I'm an economist, Monke. There you are. You know, 1968, when Simon and Garvungal were counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, and they've all come to look for America in 1968, the end of my second year at university at 20 years old. I thought to myself, you know, I don't know much about Judaism, about religion, but I do know there are lots of distinguished, distinguished rabbis. And so I decided in 1968, some are off to take a plane to the States and buy a Greyhound bus ticket. Do they still do that kind of thing? Tim, that was a hundred dollars. A hundred dollars unlimited travel. And, you know, I went around looking for America and counting the rabbis, not the cars. And I met lots of terrific rabbis. The extraordinary thing was that almost all of them mentioned a name to me, which I hadn't heard of before. And the name was Rabbi Manacham Mendel Schneersson, who was known as the Lebovitcha Rabbi. He was the head of a group of Jewish mystics called Lebovitchas. And they said, "You must meet him because he is the great leader of our time." So I tried to find out where he was, and his center was in 770 East and Parkway and Brooklyn. I went there and I walked in. And I said to the first person I met, I've come 3,000 miles to meet the Lebovitcha Rabbi, could I please have an appointment? He absolutely fell about laughing. You said, "Do you know how many thousands, tens of thousands of people are waiting to have a meeting with the Lebovitcha Rabbi?" He's got tens of hundreds of thousands of followers. And they all want to see him. And so come back next year or 10 years time and forget it. So I said, "Well, look, I'm traveling around on this ground bus. I don't know where I'm going to be when." But I do know that I'm going to be in Los Angeles because I have an aunt there and I will be traveling there. So here is the phone number of my aunt. And if the Lebovitcha Rabbi finds that he can see me, please give me a call and let me know and I'll come back to New York. Well, I was staying with my aunt several weeks later in Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. And Sunday night, the phone goes. And it's somebody from Brooklyn saying, "The Rabbi can see you on Thursday night." Now, I really had to go. The only trouble is I didn't have any money at all. I was a student. And the only way of getting from Beverly Hills to Brooklyn by Greyhound Bus is to travel 72 hours uninterruptedly, which is exactly what I did. I do not recommend this to anyone, but I did travel. I did travel for 72 hours. And I got to meet the great man. I'm 20 years old and here he is, the man with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of followers. And we sat for 20, 25 minutes and it was a life-changing experience. And the interesting thing was that he did not really let me ask him questions. He asked me questions. He was interviewing me. And he said to me, for instance, something like this, "How many Jewish students that came to a university?" I said, "I don't know, but around a thousand." He said, "How many Jewish students go to the Jewish society, get involved in Jewish life?" I said, "About a hundred." He said, "You mean 90% are just completely disengaged?" I said, "Yes." He said, "What are you doing about it?" And I, being very English at the time, started a sentence with the following words. "In the situation in which I find myself," which he said, "Where are the English wives?" They could ask me something out, please. And the rub of the lead or not, it was a very, very polite man, actually interrupted me in the middle of that sentence. And he said, "You don't find yourself in a situation. You put yourself in a situation." And therefore, I think you should put yourself in a different situation. And this was absolutely mind-blowing. There were hundreds of people outside waiting for their interview, and here is this great man essentially telling me to become a leader, which is the last thing in the world I wanted to be. And many years later, I said, "What I learned at that moment was that people thought of this great man as a religious leader with thousands of followers." I said, "Yes, that's true, but that's the least interesting thing about him." I said, "Good leaders create followers. Great leaders create leaders." And that is what he did at that moment. And that moment never left me. It changed my entire life. It didn't change it immediately. It changed it slowly and gradually. But when you are told by one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century, you are going to have to lead, and you're going to have to lead because you are in that situation where you can do something. That did actually change my life.
Why did the Lubavitcher Rebbe call Jonathan? (31:22)
I have so many questions about just this exchange that we could talk about just this for the rest of this conversation. I promise I won't do that. But let me begin with perhaps one that is on the mind of many listeners. You mentioned earlier in our chat being sent six elements or numbers in the improbability of the universe and so on. Let's talk about tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers and the improbability of getting that phone call. Even if you have to speculate, maybe you asked him, maybe you found out later, maybe you never did. But how or why do you think you got that phone call? It just seems so unlikely that that would happen. I think the message got through to him that an English student from Cambridge University had wandered in to his center. I think he probably told his followers to get in touch with the organization in Britain. I think he got somebody to ask, have you heard of this guy? Probably they replied, yes, we've met him once because I had met a couple of his followers in the University in Cambridge. I think actually he had followers all over the world. I think he stayed in very close contact with him. It was clear that a couple of his followers in Britain had decided that maybe this 20-year-old had some gifts that this 20-year-old had no idea that he had. So he had a dossier coming in potentially to the meeting. I will. I will. I will. I mean, Tim, my life has been made by three or four, maybe half a dozen friendships with people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. I regard myself as really having been blessed by those friendships because it's an extraordinary thing. If somebody thinks you can do something that you never believed you could do, I have a pretty negative self-image. But some people have actually believed in me and they befriended me and they were the people who lifted me really on their shoulders to where I got to.
What is the difference between a rabbi and a rebbe? (33:41)
You mentioned that, and I'm going to butcher the pronunciation here, but the "l'Bovature Reba" that's even remotely close. Thank you. Even for a yank, I'm doing pretty well. What does that mean? Most people will have heard the word "Rabbi" or "A-B-B-I" if spelled in, certainly in American English. What does the "L'Bovature Reba" mean? And what is the origin of that designation? The "Bovature" was a town in Russia, a little village in Russia, actually, not that huge. Can I be the tiniest bit mischievous, actually, Tim? When I first became a rabbi, one of the members of my congregation said to me, "Rabbi, you're a rabbi and the Chasidim, the Jewish mystics have something called a "reba". What's the difference between a rabbi and a "reba"? And I said, the difference is this, when a "reba" speaks, maybe in front of a thousand people, everyone believes that he is speaking just to them. When a rabbi speaks, maybe in front of a hundred people, everyone is convinced that he's speaking to the person next to them. It gives you a little hint. The word "rabbi" means "my teacher". A rabbi teaches, he instructs, he educates, whereas a "reba", the Jewish mystics had a much more powerful image of the rabbi as "leader", as somebody who could actually order them to do things, go and live in this country, go and do that particular job of work. So they endowed their leaders with enormous authority of a kind that never existed before in Jewish tradition. And that is what a "reba" is. A "reba" is a sort of all-powerful leader of a sect of Jewish mystics.
What is a mystic? What is mysticism? (35:57)
How would you explain what a mystic is, whether within the Jewish tradition or more broadly? One of the rabbi's disciples said to me, when I first went to a study at the rabbinical seminary, having come straight from studying philosophy at Cambridge and Oxford, he said, "You know the difference between you and us? You look at the universe and you say the universe exists? Does God exist? We look at the world and we say, "God exists, but does the universe exist?" In other words, a mystic believes in the reality of things that we see as vegas, mystical as spiritual and so on and so forth. Believes in the ultimate reality of the depths, if you like. Are mystics, as they are in some instances, considered to have direct experiences of the divine or experiences of transcendence? Is that a prerequisite for being considered a mystic in the Jewish tradition? They do it in a very specific way. Mystics tend to have experience of the divine as an element, as a dimension. They're quite different, for instance, from prophets who experience the divine as a voice, as a call, as a charge. Mystics tend to screen out the more material elements of life and resonate. As you know, I'm sure you've engaged in meditation, and mysticism is generally a meditative discipline.
Rabbi Sacks at Ground Zero and his controversial book (37:48)
We were discussing earlier these core handful of mentorships or relationships that have bolstered you, and through which you found confidence that you didn't perhaps initially possess in yourself. We've covered perhaps some of the highlight stories. I'd love to talk about a challenging time, and this is something that you mentioned in tribe of mentors. It's the period following the publication of the Dignity of Difference, and there were calls for your resignation, headlines in the newspaper, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chief Rabbi accused of heresy. Can you please explain what happened and why it was controversial? Dignity of Difference was my response to 9/11. 9/11, I suppose, shook all of us, shook the whole world. But one thing that happened was that the World Economic Forum that's normally held at Davos was held that year in January 2002, I think, in New York out of solidarity with the people of New York. And I was there, I used to go to the World Economic Forum, and on one of the days we went as religious leaders to Ground Zero, which was still smoking away. And the Archbishop of Canterbury was there, Chief Rabbi of Israel was there, gurus from India, Muslims, imams and so on. And we all gave prayers at Ground Zero, but actually standing there at Ground Zero and seeing the sheer enormity of what happened there. Left a huge impact on me, and I suddenly realized, here is religion as hate. And here are we standing with Archbishop Canterbury, with imams, with gurus, religion as love, religion as neutral reconciliation. And I said to myself, this has got to be the big choice of the 21st century. And I set myself to write a book that would be published on the first anniversary of 9/11, and given that this was the very end of January 2002, I said, I must publish a book, and it must be the strongest possible statement that I can make stronger than has ever been made before, of the need of religions to make space for one another. We can no longer predicate ourselves on defeating, converting or eliminating the religions that are not ours. And I really felt the time, the moment required that. It did not require conventional gestures of sadness and grief, of course. They were there and they were done and they were done well, but this needed something new and important. So the book I wrote, and it did indeed appear on the first anniversary of 9/11, so I wrote it at great speed, was far and away the most radical. I had written up to that time. It was not the most radical I have written. I've subsequently written a book called Not In God's Name that is much more radical. But people do not associate radicalism with chief rabbis, or religious leaders. We are there to defend the faith, we are not there in any way to challenge the faith. I felt I'm sorry I've got to take that risk. Well, the book was published. People realized quite how radical it was. And obviously people felt that I had gone too far. I don't think I went too far at all. I mean, looking back in retrospect, it's absolutely ridiculous to think I went too far. But I had to face the fact that a lot of rabbis, a lot of my own rabbis, felt just that. What about it led them to feel that you went too far? Could you give us a few examples or an example? I will tell you exactly the key sentence. The key sentence was, "No religion has a monopoly on truth." In order to satisfy everyone, because I didn't want to take the book out of circulation, I agreed to do a second edition. And in the second edition, I wrote the following sentence, "No religion has a monopoly on wisdom." And the rabbi said, "Ah, wisdom! That's fine. Oh, that's okay." So we were able to resolve every single issue with the book. It took me three hours to make the necessary changes. We brought out a second edition, and that was the end of it. Don't forget Charles Darwin brought out a second edition of Origin of Species for the same reason. His book also created controversy. So in the end we came through, it's just, you know, when you're in the full heat of it, it can be a little bit unnerving, especially, especially when you realize that your wife and children are affected by this. And that's a really tough one, because they didn't vote for it, if you know what I mean. But in the end we came through, it was okay. I made two phone calls to rabbis, senior to me, older than me and wiser than me. And I said, "Was I okay?" And they both said, "Yes." And the second that I heard that support from them, one in Israel, one in America, I realized I was fine. I didn't need to worry about it at all. And there is one piece of wisdom that I would share with you, and there is an American Christian minister who wrote a book called "The Purpose Driven Life." If you come across this at all, Tim? I've heard the title. Yes, I don't recall the author. It's not a great one. And it has sold over 30 million copies. It's a remarkable achievement. But it has one of the best opening sentences in any book I know. Right up there with Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. And this is the opening sentence. It's not about you. That is a very powerful sentence. The second I could understand that this is not about me. This is about people's anxieties. This is all the trauma of 9/11 and so on and so forth. The second I had two friends saying, "You're okay." I was able to get through the rest and it turned out actually to be quite minor. Was the "you're okay" so reassuring because it was an indication that all will be okay in the end.
Its not about you (44:58)
It was a reassurance from people with broader experience of life. Or was it "you're okay" in the sense of "we support you" that... Neither. Neither. Neither. These were people far to the right of me, much more conservative than me. But they understood that what I said was perfectly within the parameters of Jewish belief. Here is a principle, Tim, that I hope your listeners will think about because it's one of the most powerful life tools that I've ever come across. What happens when you're in a situation in which you have done something that has generated widespread disapproval? How do you deal with that? And I thought about this long and hard. And eventually I came up with a principle which has been a lifesaver to me and which makes a great deal of sense. It says, "win the respect of people you respect." And you can forget the rest. I'm writing that down for myself. "Win the respect of people you respect." It's an excellent reminder. You know, there are a thousand people saying you're wrong. But if the two people you respect say you're right, you can ignore the thousand people.
The I-We construct, we are better than me (46:22)
What was the opening line that you mentioned in the purpose-driven life? Could you repeat that line for a moment, please? It's not about you. Just a quick thanks to one of our sponsors and we'll be right back to the show. This episode is brought to you by Five Bullet Friday. It's become one of the most popular email newsletters in the world with millions of subscribers. Every Friday I send out five bullet points of the coolest things I've found that week. It's free. It's always going to be free and you can learn more at Tim.blog/Friday. If I'm doing small in-person meetups, offering early access to startups, beta testing, special deals or anything else, I share it first with Five Bullet Friday subscribers. So check it out. Tim.blog/Friday. Again, that's Tim.blog/Friday and thanks for checking it out. This seems to segue nicely to a number of things that I'd love to discuss with you. And one of the constructs or frameworks, I'm not sure if that's the right label that I'd love to have you introduce listeners to, is the I-We construct. Not about you, it's not about the I. And there are probably 100 different avenues into discussing this, but feel free to take whatever you think is a good starting point. Yeah, I always, when I want to explain things, talk about the joke that Benedict Cumberbatch makes in the imitation game, when he's playing Alan Turing. Great movie. And here, and nightly, tell him, go and tell them a joke, show them you're human. And so he goes along and he says, you know, these two explorers in the jungle and they suddenly hear a lion roar. And one of them starts looking for a place where both of them can hide. And the other one starts putting on his running shoes. And the first person says to the second person, you're crazy. You know, you can't run faster than a lion. And the second one turns to the first one and says, I don't need to run faster than the lion. All I need to do is run faster than you. So this is where Darwin arrived at. That natural selection where, you know, there's competition for scarce resources, where you have to outpace others in order to survive.
Darwin'S Theory And The Concept Of Individualism
The first and second runners, the ruthless and the altruists, from Darwin (48:56)
And so, according to the conclusion that it's the selfish guy, number two guy who is putting on his running shoes, who will survive the lion. Whereas it's the first guy, the altruist who's looking for a way of saving both of them, who gets eaten by the lion. So the ruthless survive and the altruists go extinct. That was Darwin's conclusion. And Darwin was sharp enough to see that that conclusion is simply not true. Because in every single society that you ever find, it is the altruists who are admired. So how did altruists survive at all when natural selection seems to favor the egoists? And eventually Darwin found a solution. He didn't write it in Origin of Species. He wrote it in his book, The Descent of Man.
Darwins book (49:50)
And he said, any tribe whose members were altruistic, who were always willing to come to the aid of one another, would be stronger than any tribe whose members were not altruistic. Or, as we will put it today, we pass on our genes as individuals, but we survive as groups. Groups only exist when we put the "we" before the "I" when we accept collective responsibility for the common good. There is no other way of survival. And since we are social animals, since our existence depends on being in groups, we need altruism in order to survive. Most traditional societies have made space for egoism and for altruism, for self-interest and for collective interest, the common good. So, the self-interest is today in the market where we are competing for wealth and in politics where we are competing for power. There it's all about the "I", but there's such a thing as family or community or congregation or charity, where we are there not to compete but to cooperate, to function as a collective "we". Now, what has happened in the last 50 years is that the market is still strong. The state and politics is still strong. But families, communities, congregations and the rest have become weaker than they once were. And the end result is that we have too much "I" and too little "we". It's all gone out of balance. Now, and that is to say that we have pushed in the West radical individualism simply too far.
What radical individualism looks like (51:48)
What does radical individualism look like? I don't know. Are you into soccer in the States? Tim or? Well, I used to play soccer and then spent time in South America where it's a religion. So, I think I'm more exposed than most. Some Americans care about soccer, but we tend to view our football as something you throw around by hand. But please continue with soccer, since the audience is international. And in this, you have a soccer team that contains the 11 greatest players in the world. But they're all radical individualists. That team will never win a single match. Because soccer is made by your ability to put the team ahead of the individual player. And imagine an orchestra of radical individualists. The result will not be music but will be noise. Whenever I take over from a place that should be about "we", you get catastrophe. Now, Tim, look at this catastrophe. And I'm surprised not more people have noticed it. Two of the countries that have done worst in the world in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 have been the two most individualistic societies in the world today. The United States and the United Kingdom. The United States far more infections than anywhere else. Far more fatalities than anywhere else. Britain, terrible record of fatalities per million of the population. And a terrible record of economic collapse. Now, you ask yourself why these two countries, which were the greatest defenders of liberty in the 20th century, Britain and America, have become the worst at dealing with a catastrophe like coronavirus. And the answer is they have too much "I" and too little "we". It is the countries that maintain that balance. Like South Korea, like Taiwan, like Singapore, like New Zealand, like Germany. Those are the countries that have coped really well. When you have a country that is all "I", for instance, you have political leadership that keeps saying "I, I, I" instead of saying "we, we, we". A relationship that can sometimes be very damaging indeed to the social fabric. So I think as time has gone on, the book that I wrote about this, which of course I finished writing just before the pandemic has become more and more relevant to where we are and where we ought to be aiming to be in the future. So the book is morality, subtitled, restoring the common good and divided times. And I know you are a student of history, avid student of history, studier of history. And I can't speak to the feeling, the sentiment in the UK, but in the US I would say there's a lot of fatalism and nihilism at the moment. Certainly including many people who are well educated who feel that you can't put the toothpaste back in the toothpaste tube, and we are just on the descent in the lifespan of a collapsing empire. That is, I would say, the feeling that is very pervasive here. And I would love to know in your studies, to your knowledge, are there any examples of reversing the trend steering back away from the precipice and reverting back to or reinforcing more "we" versus "I"? Or is that an unstoppable one-way trend that really can't be stemmed? Tim, I want you to introduce you to a Jewish way of thinking about things.
Why the concept of inevitability doesn't exist (55:49)
And that is... You're the perfect person to do it. Forget the word inevitable, it doesn't exist. Forget it. Delete it. Search and delete. We are paying for come-up. We're going to come up in a few weeks' time to the Jewish higher holidays, right? We're going to have Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement, and we are going to do the weirdest thing. Listen carefully. We are going to say a prayer which goes on Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year. It is written. And on Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement, it is sealed. Who will live? Who will die? Who will prosper? Who will suffer? The late-landed Cohen actually made a song about this based on this called "Who By Fire". So that is the perfect statement of fatalism. You know, it's written, though it's going to be written over the next ten days and there's nothing you can do about it. And then precisely two minutes later, the entire synagogue erupts with the words "buh prayer, penitence, and charity avert the evil decree". Nobody ever accepts any verdict as final in Judaism. We completely throw out the concept of inevitability. One of the most moving things I ever heard is, you know, the BBC, the British Army liberated the extermination of Bergen with the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in April 1945. And they sent a young journalist called Patrick Gordon Walker to do a program, a broadcast from Bergen-Belsen. Just a couple of days after it had been liberated. The people there were walking corpses. And this was one of the most horrendous scenes people had ever seen. But the BBC radio recording of that still exists. And the prisoners, the survivors, can be heard singing a song. And the song they are singing is "Hartikfa", the song that became three years later, the national anthem of the state of Israel. "Hartikfa" means "the hope".
The hope. How and when people move out of eye and into we: 1945-1965 (58:09)
Here were people who just, just, just managed to survive in a world of corpses and at the gates of the city. The gates of hell they were singing about hope. That is what Judaism is about. We never, ever, ever give up hope and we never accept anything as inevitable. Now let me answer your question directly. The last two times we had a situation as devastating as this pandemic. In 1918, first world war and the Spanish flu pandemic. And 1945, the end of this second world war, they could not have been less alike. In 1918, people didn't change. They went on with an eye-centered society. They created what we know as the roaring 20s with wild dances and wilder parties. There were this huge economic inequalities and people tried to blot out the memories of what had happened by going back to partying and just concerned about themselves. The result of that was the great crash of 1929, the Great Depression of 1930, the rise of Nazism and Fascism. Throughout Europe and a mere 21 years after the war to end all wars, the world was at war again.
Cultural Climate Change (59:47)
That was 1918. It failed to move from eye to we. The world after 1945 was completely different. It really did move from eye to we. In Britain, there was the 1944 Education Act, which extended further education to all everyone in society. It was a real major breakthrough against class divisions. Came the National Health Service, Universal Healthcare. Came the welfare state. In America, you had the GI Bill. You had all sorts of measures to help those people who had made sacrifices during the war. America produced one of the most imaginative schemes ever in the Marshall Plan, through which America extended loans to every country in Europe, including Germany itself, to rebuild their shattered economies. What was the end result of that? 75 years of peace. So it can be done. The last time it was done was in 1945 to 1965. The eye society of the 1920s became the Wii society of post-World War II, and it can be done again. I would give you other examples from the 19th century, but I hope that's enough to be going on with. You have used the term "cultural climate change." Can you define that for people, please? Cultural climate change is when the ecology, the environment, the air, the temperature changes. But we very often don't notice it at once. It took a very long time for people to notice global warming and climate change. There is a brilliant professor of sociology at Harvard University called Robert Putnam, whom I regard, as the world's greatest sociologist. And Robert Putnam introduced me to the concept, which I hadn't come across before, of a Google Engram. A Google Engram is a way that you can search the literature that Google has stored electronically. They've made copies of virtually every book published since 1800. So you can actually search that literature and, for instance, find out the relative salience of different words over time. And what Robert Putnam discovered was that the word "I" and the word "we" appear more or less in tandem around the same sort of level. From 1800 until 1964. In 1964, suddenly the "I" begins to predominate over the "we." And when you see something like that, you begin to realize you're in a state of cultural climate change. Is that good enough, for example, or would you like others? It is. It is a great example. And one of the questions that comes to my mind is, I suppose on a lot of minds, listening to this, and that is, what can we do in countries where rugged individualism has been prized, has been rewarded, when the counter examples say in, whether in China, in other locations, reflect thousands of years of, in many cases, collective thinking, ancestor worship, etc. What can we do? There are individual acts, I would imagine, shifts of perspective, and then there are perhaps larger scale actions we can take. But what would you like to see us do, whether individually or collectively? I think the whole series of things, but let me give you some examples. One thing that Britain took seriously, and America took much more seriously, was the concept of national identity. A kind of initiation that you went through in the states, in schools, where you learnt what it was to be an American war with the key dates, who were the key people, and so on and so forth. I once pointed out, there's fascinating experience to walk around the monuments in Washington, and then walk around the monuments in Britain. If you walk around the monuments in Washington, you go to Lincoln Memorial, on the one hand you've got the Gettysburg Address on the other, the second inaugural. You look at the Jefferson Memorial with screeds of text on marble tablets. You look at the Roosevelt Memorial with those six spaces, one for each decade in public life with the key quotes. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. You look at the Martin Luther King Memorial with well over a dozen of his most memorable lines. I suddenly realised that in America, monuments are something you read. Now go to Parliament Square in London, and you will find that Nelson Mandela gets two words, Nelson and Mandela, Winston Churchill, who wrote as many memorable sentences as anyone in the English language, gets one word, Churchill. In Britain, monuments aren't things you read, but in America they are. Why? Because America had to integrate successive waves of immigration so they had to read the American story. They had to live the American story, they had to make it their own story. The second you have a strong national identity, then you have a strong basis for saying, we are all in this together. We all have collective responsibility for the common good. Now around 2016, just before the presidential election, I was privileged to win quite a big award in the States, presented in the Kennedy Center in Washington. I mentioned this story, and after I came down and got my award, people said to me, well, you know, we used to do that, but we have stopped telling the story now, because we're embarrassed to tell this story. And the moment I heard that, I realised that America was in deep trouble, because there is no way you can generate we within society without a strong sense of we all belong together. All you do is you disaggregate and fragment the culture, and the end result is that people like Black Lives Matter and all the others feel they are not fully part of this society. This society doesn't fully recognise and respect them. I mean, you can't live with them. So first things first tell the story. And I was just thinking, can it really be done? And then my beloved number one daughter, who has clearly divine insight here, decided two years ago or three years ago that she was going to buy Dad a birthday present of tickets for Elena myself to go and see Hamilton the musical. And I suddenly realised what it was to retell the American story in a new and very inclusive way. So full marks to Lin Manuel Miranda for something that is very creative in expressing the we in a new way. So that's the first thing, tell a national narrative. And I fear I've gone on too long.
Challenges And The Importance Of Teamwork
I'm happy to tell you the other stages, but challenge me if you like. Oh, please do. No challenge top of mind at the moment. So please, please continue. Okay. Okay. Number two, once you've got the story, what next? What next is you need the ritual and the day in the diary? Jews have kept their identity for longer than any other people and done so under the more adverse circumstance of being a tiny minority, a cognitive minority in Excel. Why did they do it? Because they have a day in the year called Passover where they tell the story and hand it on to their children. Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought this was the most remarkable political achievement ever. So you need the day and you need the moment when you tell the story. I had the privilege of working with, we used to talk these things through with four prime ministers, with John Major, with Tony Blair, with Gordon Brown, and with David Cameron. And we really, really looked at this. How can we get this moment in which we enact the ritual of being all there together? Now in Britain, in November, we have something called Remembrance Sunday, which is about remembering the people and the sacrifices made in war. It's very moving. The Queen comes, all the royal family, all prime ministers, President, Priveus and everything. Everyone is there. Just outside Ten Downing Street, it's televised, it's huge. And I said, why don't we take this day and divide it into so that the morning is about war and the past and the afternoon is about peace and the future. And you join them together by getting the elderly generation to hand the candle, the flame on, across the generations to young people. And that way we could find a new and inclusive way of including young people from all the ethnic groups and all the religious groups. And it would be a celebration of Britain as a future, not just as a past. We would have the day there in the diary, it would be televised and so on. It never got there. I don't know why. But you need not only the story, you need the date in the diary and you need the ritual. And then thirdly, and this is far and away the most important, you need to empower young people. The way to teach young people how to be moral is to just send them to disaster zones, to people who need care and empower them. Show that you believe in them the way the Lebovitch are ever believed in me. Because once you empower people and you give them the opportunity to make the world better by their altruism, they learn that much more powerfully by doing it for themselves than by getting a lecture on it. So you put those three things together, a national story, a national ritual and empowerment of young people for something a little like national service. And you would bring back the we immediately.
Creating safe spaces and why safe spaces dont exist (01:10:39)
This is such an important subject. I'm so thrilled that you've penned this book. And while we still have a little bit of time, I'd love to hop from empowering to perhaps an aspect of empowering or at the very least not disempowering, although you can recontextualize if you like. I know you have written, I believe in this most recent book, about safe spaces, cancel culture, free speech. Is there anything that you would like to say on these subjects? Yeah, there is nothing less safe than safe space. I was, I told you, rather inspired by the Lebovitch are ever and I became as a graduate student in Cambridge, quite religious. My postgraduate, my doctoral supervisor was Sir Bernard Williams, widely regarded as the most brilliant man in Britain and the leading philosopher in the world. In the world of his generation. And Bernard Williams was a laps Catholic and a ferocious atheist and a brilliant atheist. And here he is talking to a young man with a beard and a velvet yarmulke. It was crazy. And in all the time, we were together. Never once did he ridicule my beliefs, not once. What he wanted to do was could I make them coherent, lucid, consistent. That's all. And my goodness me, the fact that I was being tutored by somebody who regarded every single thing that I believed as superstitious nonsense, but it was totally courteous to me. And genuinely so, it went deep down. That was safe space. Because it meant I could face the world knowing that there are lots of people who will disagree with me and I am completely unafraid because I sat with a guy much more intelligent than any of them whose views were much more opposed to mine than any of them. And we were able to talk respectfully. And I realized what is safe space, a place where you listen respectfully to the views of those who disagree with you because you know in return they will listen respectfully to your views even though they're opposed to them. Safe space means that courteous discipline of respectful listening, which is being fretted and defiled in too many universities today. What they are doing is creating very, very unsafe space. You know there's an interesting thing that lots and lots of kids say is this true in the states in Britain it is lots and lots of young children have peanut allergies. You can't trust me. True in the US as well. Yeah. There's one country in the world where kids don't have peanut allergies. And that is Israel because the most popular snack in Israel contains peanuts. So because they're exposed to it from very early on they develop immunity to it. And because at university we are exposed to views that challenge our own we develop immunity to it. And that is what makes us strong and healthy and safe. And people are going to go through our university system thinking that the world is a place where if you protest long and loudly enough on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook you can cancel out any view with which you disagree. Not only destroying the most important element of civilization which is the collaborative pursuit of truth but you are also potentially ruining those young people. You have to make them intellectually robust and don't carry on with what you're doing because frankly what you're doing is an outrage. And I do believe that universities are so important to the health of a society that the guardians of those places should show a lot more courage.
Hillel the Elder and the importance of free speech (01:14:50)
There's a saying that is in some notes from I believe this new book Audi, Altra, and Partum. Yeah. And I'm not up to speed in my Latin. I'm assuming that's Latin. That's great. Hear the other side. That's a love of Jurobor. And you're following that. And please correct me if I'm getting any of this incorrect but no institution that denies a hearing to the other side can be a vehicle for justice. Yeah. It's a principle of Roman law. Listen to the other side. There's a story I tell actually that perhaps I could repeat from the book. It's from the Talmud. And from Tractic to Butte. It tells of two study partners. One was called Rabbi Yochonan and one was called Rachlakesh. And they used to discuss Jewish law every day. And then Rachlakesh died. And the rabbis were really worried about Rabbi Yochonan. It was a very important rabbi of the third century because they thought that without his study partner he would go into a depression and die. So they said we have to find him a study partner to cheer him up. And so they sent him a Rabbi Eliyazaben Padat who knew the whole literature backwards and forwards. And whenever Rabbi Yochonan expressed an opinion Rabbi Eliyazaben Padat would say there is a source that supports you. After two days of this Rabbi Yochonan started tearing his hair out and saying Rachlakesh come back. They've sent me this guy who whenever I say anything says you're right. Do you think I know I'm right? Do I need him to tell me I'm right? But when you were here Rachlakesh every time I would express an opinion you would show me 24 reasons why I was wrong. And I would have to find 24 reasons to show I was right. The end result is that you grew and I grew. So please take this man away.
On teamwork, stress-testing, and Iron We (01:16:55)
It reminds me of a concept called Red teaming that a lot of the best investors also use. And I think that investment here is just a metaphor for life and that is they will in say partner meetings or otherwise get into the etymology of it which is military. But having your partners, your colleagues do their best to attack your belief systems position assumptions. And only once they have been thoroughly, thoroughly stress tested can you truly understand your position? And can you truly have confidence in your position? And there are a number of other things in this new book that struck me. I'm picking and choosing and cherry picking a little bit here like a monument in the United States of course but a free society depends on the dignity of dissent. I think the phrasing of that is so important. I think that the things that I think are from people movements and parties that demonize their opponents and it makes me think as a student of history or sometimes student of history myself. I try to read as much as I can that things in excess often become their opposite. So without stress testing, freedom fighters become tyrants. It's very easy for someone who starts with a deemed good intentions to forcibly suppress opposition and forget that forcible suppression of opposition is perhaps the defining characteristic of fascism. And it's terrifying. It really is terrifying and I'm glad that you're speaking to all these points in the context of moving from I to we, which is sort of by definition inclusive. If that makes sense. You know the founders of America, and indeed the founders of liberty in the modern world the John Milton's and John Locke, the Thomas Jefferson's that the Washington's. And of course that wonderful man. I mean, then Madison and so on, various papers. They were about separation of powers about faction about not vesting for power in this institution or that, but forcing people to maintain a delicate balance. Now you have too much we, you get China and you lose freedom. You have too much I and you get the states in Britain today which I've just gone a little too far maintaining the balance between iron we is not easy. It's a constant, it's a constant challenge. And it seems to me that that we just took our eye off the ball and an imbalance suddenly appeared. And you know, all of a sudden things that I took for granted forever. I can no longer take for granted. Like the fact that liberal democracy is here to stay and is the default condition of human affairs. And you suddenly realize it isn't so that actually our situation today certainly in Britain and America is quite delicate. And truth is we've all got to play our part. You know, when you feel that something as tiny as that original instance of coronavirus was able to sweep across the world. And that of course is a kind of medical example of what people call the butterfly effect, the chaos theory that the beating of a butterfly is weighing in that Philippines can cause the virus. The Philippines can cause a tidal wave on the west coast of America. But I profoundly believe the other way around as well. I once in a book called it the Chaos Theory of Virtue. That every good deed we do somehow has an impact on people. It changes them for the better, they pay it forward. And although we may not realize it, the good we do is contagious just as the bad we do is. And therefore we can each make a positive difference to this. And perhaps it's only we, the people who can do it.
It's easier to destroy than create; a counter-culture marriage (01:21:33)
Here here, it strikes me as much easier to destroy than to create. It takes effort to keep things on the rails. And I think it's a good time to measure twice and cut once. And it brings to mind one of the quotes which is from you. There's an ellipses in the middle because there's more to this statement. So I don't want to shortchange it. But the single most important distinction in life is to distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and an attempt to be resisted. And I feel like you have illustrated throughout your career the ability to pause and reflect before taking action. Not that you always do that. Of course you're human. It seems like that is good medicine for our times and circumstances right now. And I know we only have a few minutes left for very good reasons. And I want to give just a teaser for a potential round two with you before we go to some closing comments. But in the course of doing homework, came across something I wanted to ask you. How long did you date your now wife before getting engaged or proposing? I think it was three weeks. It certainly wasn't four. Okay. We're going to bookmark. The most unlike me I have ever encountered. And this summer, despite lockdown, we celebrated our golden wedding. So very well. Congratulations. Congratulations. Perhaps next time we'll also have you tell us more about the ritual of reading the 10 plagues in the Passover service, which as someone who's really not been exposed to any of this, I found. I found beautiful. And in fact, maybe that is a, maybe that is a decent inclusion for this conversation. If you have just a few minutes more, do you think that is worth mentioning or describing for people? Or should we hold that for a round? Shading to the spilling drops of wine on the Passover night as we tell the story of the Exodus, and as we read the 10 plagues, has many different explanations.
We shed no tear for our enemies' downfall (01:23:58)
So this one is certainly not the only explanation. But one explanation was that we shed tears for the Egyptians who died during that period because we take no pleasure in the suffering of our enemies, and we do not rejoice in the victims of our victories. And I think that's a really important thing to do, somehow or other, to say to yourself, "Okay, I'm Jewish, but what about those Egyptians?" They weren't responsible for Pharaoh, they weren't responsible for the slavery, and yet he had driven the country to the brink of disaster. And I think that kind of role reversal, do you know what I mean, Tim? Well, you think you're going to your enemy and suddenly realize that your enemy is human like you are and has a point of view as you do, although it's not the same point of view. It's very difficult and very challenging, but it is very powerful. The contemporary example that comes to mind is that there was a leader of the Joby party in Hungary, the anti-Semitic party in Hungary. His name was Zana Zegadi. And he was a fully fledged anti-Semite, but he had some enemies within the party, and they decided to see if they could dig up any embarrassing facts in his background. And lo and behold, they discovered that this guy, unknown to him, his grandparents had died at Auschwitz. That Hungary's leading anti-Semite was a Jew. Well, I mean, today this is a religious Jew who spent his life fighting anti-Semitism. But it just shows how powerful it can be if you suddenly think yourself into a different situation. And if we were capable of that, we would rid the world of a great deal of violence.
Closing Remarks And Advertisements
A closing message from Rabbi Sacks (01:26:20)
Rabbi Sacks, it is always such a pleasure. I've greatly enjoyed all of our interactions. I hope we may have many more and share a cup of tea, perhaps at some point in person post a pandemic or when things get under more control. The new book, which I highly recommend people check out, is titled Morality, Subtitle, Restoring the Common Good and Divided Times. I can think of nothing more important right now in embracing this and shifting from I to we, not necessarily from one extreme to the other, but certainly further along the spectrum towards a collective we, people can find you at RabbiSacks.org at Rabbi Sacks on all social, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. Is there anything else that you would like to say before we close for today? Yeah, of course. I want to thank you, Tim, for writing the most wonderful books, for asking the most unbelievably engrossing questions. And as I told you, for doing a little video for my son, who is your biggest fan and who introduced me to your work since when I have become your biggest fan. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you. I appreciate what you're doing in the world. And I appreciate your time today. And for everyone listening, we will have complete show notes linking to everything, including the new book, any resources, people who are mentioned at Tim.blog/podcast. Thank you again, RabbiSacks. May we have many more conversations and to everyone listening. Thank you for tuning in.
Instantly Yours! (01:28:04)
Hey guys, this is Tim again, just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is "Fibilit Friday". Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little more soul of fun for the weekend? And "Fibilit Friday" is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered. It could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to 4hourworkweek.com. That's 4hourworkweek.com. All is spelled out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it.
Meet your side hustle's new best friend, FreshBooks. (01:29:05)
This episode is brought to you by FreshBooks, thousands of listeners and a lot of the contractors I use and my readers use FreshBooks. If you've been thinking about turning your part-time side business into a full-time small business or big business for that matter, you may be feeling some extra uncertainty these days and that's obviously completely natural. There are a lot of questions that can come up. How do you create a professional appearance and experience? Who can help you with support? How do you manage the billing and all of that, but still focus on the primary work of your business and on growing your business? FreshBooks is an all-in-one invoicing and accounting solution. Does a lot more than that. That helps you take your business from part-time to full-time and it only takes minutes to set up. They have one of the best sign-up flows in the business I've seen very few better. They have been helping people turn their passions into small businesses for 15 years and they can help you too. I've met the founders. I've looked at this product very closely with automated invoicing, billable time and expense tracking and an intuitive dashboard that ties it all together. It's like having a full-time financial assistant with you every step of the way. You can create, customize, and send branded and professional looking invoices in about 30 seconds. You get paid up to twice as fast with fees as low as 1% using ACH payments on FreshBooks. It's a fast, easy, and secure way for clients to pay you for your work and pay you more quickly. One of the many things that sets FreshBooks apart is their award-winning Toronto-based customer service. A real person picks up fast and will help you until you are completely satisfied and have your questions answered. There's a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but your ability to build a business that you're passionate about that you're proud of doesn't have to be one of those things. Business owners all over the world rate FreshBooks is the easiest accounting software to use. Try it out. Check it out for free for 30 days at FreshBooks.com/Tim. Just enter Tim Ferriss in the "How to Hear About a Section." Again, that's FreshBooks.com/Tim to check it out and try it for free for 30 days. One more time, FreshBooks.com/Tim.
Keeping it real on the sleepdown. (01:31:08)
This podcast episode is brought to you by Helix Sleep. Sleep is super important to me in the last few years. I've come to conclude it is the end all be all. That all good things, good mood, good performance, good everything seem to stem from good sleep. So I've tried a lot to optimize it. I've tried pills and potions, all sorts of different mattresses. You name it. And for the last few years, I've been sleeping on a Helix Midnight Lux mattress. I also have one in the guest bedroom and feedback from friends has always been fantastic. It's something that they comment on. Helix Sleep has a quiz. It takes about two minutes to complete that matches your body type and sleep preferences to a perfect mattress for you. With Helix, there's a specific mattress for each and every body. That is your body, also your taste. So let's say you sleep on your side and like a super soft bed. No problem. Or if you're back sleeper who likes a mattress that's as firm as a rock, they've got a mattress for you. Helix was selected as the number one best overall mattress pick of 2020 by GQ Magazine, Wired, Apartment Therapy and many others. Just go to helixsleep.com/tim. Take their two minute sleep quiz and they'll match you to a customized mattress that will give you the best sleep of your life. They have a 10 year warranty and you get to try it out for 100 nights risk free. They even pick it up from you if you don't love it. Now, my dear listeners, Helix is offering up to $200 off of all mattress orders and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. These are not cheap pillows either. So getting two for free is an upgraded deal. That's up to $200 off and two free pillows at helixsleep.com/tim. That's helixheelixheelixsleep.com/tim for up to $200 off. So check it out one more time helixheelixheelixsleep.com/tim.