If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when?
Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1, verse:14
Pirkei Avot (PEER-kay ah-VOHT), generally translated as “Ethics of Our Fathers”, is one of the best-known and most-cited Jewish texts. Attributed to several first-century post-Biblical rabbis, it is a collection of short statements of ethical principles pertaining to study, kindness, compassion, and human nature.
Regardless of your religious background or life-stage, I believe Pirkei Avot can help us recognize that we can accomplish more and do so better, and with improved effectiveness through the application of its wisdom.
Many Jews study Pirkei Avot during the summer months leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year that generally occurs in September. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to re-review Pirkei Avot and share some of its timeless advice with you in this month’s APS President’s Message.
This September, try to put these Pirkei Avot principles into your life:Find yourself a teacher (1:6): If you are early in your research career, apply to the APS Young Investigator Colloquium and begin to form lasting relationships with senior APS investigators.
One who is bashful will never learn (2:5): Volunteer for an APS Committee or Special Interest Group.
Do not separate yourself from the community (2.4): Make plans to attend our APS Annual Meeting March 6-9, 2019. Reserve your hotel and flight reservations to Vancouver. Register early for the conference. Renew your APS membership.
The main thing is not study, but doing (1:17): Prepare to submit an abstract or two to our Annual Meeting (due October 20).
The person who acquires a good name, has acquired something indeed (2:8): Annie Ginty, PhD, our APS Newsletter Editor, is finishing our Fall Newsletter. Please send her news about any new accomplishments, job changes, high-impact publications, or awards you recently received at email@example.com.
Do not say ‘I will study when I have the time’, for perhaps you will never have time (2:4): Subscribe to the eTOC of Psychosomatic Medicine so you never miss an issue. Get started on planning your grant application for February.
Beware of those in power (2:3) and Pray for the welfare of the government (3:2): Register to vote if you have not already or recently moved. Encourage your students and adult children to register to vote, and remind them to request an absentee ballot if needed. More on this in a future President’s Message!
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it (2:21): On October 1-2, your APS Officers together with the editor of Psychosomatic Medicine, chair of our Annual Meeting, chair of our Emerging Leadership, and our management team at Degnon Associates will convene in Alexandria, VA for our Annual Fall Council. We will review the past year, monitor ongoing initiatives, and plan for 2019 and beyond.
Who is wise? One who learns from everyone (4:1): It’s not enough to simply “like” or share a post on your personal social media feeds. Make your voice heard at Fall Council! Send me and our APS leadership who will convene next month your ideas on how APS can better serve its members and how you would like to get involved to make it happen. Be the change you want to see in APS!
Best wishes for a meaningful September!
Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH
President, APS 2018/19