How do I overcome the desire to be famous?
I personally think we should all work on the desire to become famous. Only we have to know what to be famous for – that’s what’s important. To be famous for תורה ומעשים טובים, that should be a very great ambition of everyone. Everybody should feel that it’s worthwhile looking for the right kind of kavod.
And that’s why Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave us this instinct – everybody wants glory only that many times it’s sidetracked for false things that are worthless. Let’s say, to have your name in the New York Times – that’s a hundred percent waste of ink. But there is such a thing as striving to achieve a shem tov, a good name in the eyes of people. If people will say, “Look at this man – he has a name for having good middos, a name for being an oveid Hashem and a name for being a ben Torah.” Reb Yisroel Salanter added one more – “A name for being a ba’al mussar,” he said. People should also should try to get the shem tov – “He knows mussar.”
Even shelo lishmah! לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ובמצוות שלא לשמה — A person should always conduct himself in Torah and in mitzvos even not l’sheim shamayim. What does it mean a man should do things shelo lishmah? A man should want kavod, he should learn Torah for honor and he should do mitzvos for honor. Because how else will do it? You’ll wait to achieve that purity of the mind when you’ll finally do it lishmah? You’ll never do anything! You’ll just sit back and wait forever. If you at least have incentive the incentive of shelo lishmah, you’ll get moving and you’ll make something from yourself.
TAPE # 453 (June 1983)