‘Relationships’ Category Archives

28
Jul

The Three Weeks: Becoming Illuminators

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

A story is told of Rabbi Mattaih ben Cheresh who was wealthy, God-fearing, had a fine personality, ran to do mitzvot, tzedakah in particular, provided generously from all he owned for the benefit of the Sages, always had widows and orphans eating at his table, all his dealings with other people were honest, all his life he was involved in Torah study like his teacher, Rabbi Meir, and the radiance of his face shone as brightly as the brilliance of sunlight (Midrash Tanchumah, Chukkat 1).

We see that one who acts as he should, who lives a life of righteousness, generosity, Torah study and honesty, will shine with the brilliance of sunlight.

We are taught that there were many such people at the time of the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Yet, despite their great radiance, the sin of baseless hatred prevented their light from illuminating others. We can take an important step toward repairing the sin of baseless hatred by emulating the students in the following story:

“When the Torah study session was finished in Rabbi Ammi’s school, they would say to each other: “May you see your world in your lifetime.”

“May your eyes sparkle with the light of Torah

and you are face as the radiance of the Heavens.

May you speak words of great Torah insight,

and may your entire being be joyous,

with those things that are right and just in life.

May your feet hurry to hear the words of the One Who is Ancient, Older than Time Itself (Berachot 17a).”

We are taught that there were many such people at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. Yet, despite their great radiance, the sin of baseless hatred prevented their light from illuminating others. We can take an important step toward repairing the sin of baseless hatred by emulating the students in the following story:

They prayed for each other to shine with the light of Torah and the radiance of the Heavens. At the very least, we too, can pray as did they.

The Midrash teaches that each of us contains the seeds of such radiance: When Israel stood at Mount Sinai and said, “We will do, and we will hear,” at that very moment they were given of some of the radiance God’s Intimate Presence (Pesikta Rabbati 21:5). We can use the 3 Weeks to become the highest form of Illuminators: those who nurture the inner radiance of those around them.

The Talmud teaches that one way we can nurture the light of others and thereby receive more like ourselves is: “Rabbi Dostai expressed the following insight in the name of Rabbi Yannai; ” If a person gives even the smallest coin to tzedakah, he will receive the light of God’s Presence (Bava Batra 10a).” We know how sometimes a simple act of kindness, a warm word, can bring light to the face of someone who is suffering. We don’t need to do usage things in order to become illuminators, the most ostensibly insignificant acts are often overflowing with the light of God’s Presence.

Rabbi Chanan of Tziporin said:

What does the unwise persons say?

“Who could possibly study all of Torah? The section Nezikin alone is 30 chapters! This section Keilim alone is 30 chapters!”

What does the person of insight say?

“I will study 2 laws today, and another to tomorrow, until I have studied the entire Torah (Vayikra Rabbah 19:2).”

We can the common illuminators on small step at a time.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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25
Jul

Mishlei Tools: Three Weeks: 12:20: Loving Others

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

“There is joy for people who make plans to do good (Proverbs 12:20).” Rabbi Levi said, “whoever thinks to himself before going to sleep at night, “When I wake up tomorrow I will do good things for So and So,” that person will ultimately share great joy with the righteous in the Garden of Eden, in the Future World, as the verse says, “There is joy for people who make plans to do good.” [Midrash Mishlei 12:1]

It is appropriate to include this verse as part of our morning blessings during the Three Weeks with the intention to repair the damage of baseless hatred that led to the disruption of the Second Temple. We should also remember to say to ourselves before going to sleep, “When I wake up tomorrow I will do good things for So and So.”

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Jul

The Story of Khalid the Kind

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

Long, long ago, a lone traveler set out to cross the Sahara Desert, heading north from Timbuktu. Days passed and he made steady progress on the road to Marrakesh. On the eighth day of his journey, the traveler was set upon by a ferocious sand storm. The wind lashed him without mercy and confused his sense of direction. When it was over, he was lost. Dunes of pitiless sand stretched in every direction. There was no shade and he had lost his supplies in the storm. Soon his tongue began to swell and his lips cracked, every ounce of his being cried for water. Vultures circled slowly overhead. The man wandered aimlessly until hope deserted him; he fell to his knees, ready to die.

The traveler did not know it, but just over the Eastern Dune, lay the oasis of Khalid the Kind, known throughout the Sahara as the possessor of the finest, purest water and the most generous heart the desert had ever known. Khalid the Kind regularly rode the dunes in search of the lost and the forsaken.

Just as the traveler prepared to close his eyes for the last time, the desert silence was broken by the plodding sounds of a camel. The camel and rider were soon at his side. Khalid gathered up the prostrate traveler and rode swiftly home.

Khalid offered the traveler water and the man drank deeply. Again and again he drank until his thirst had gone. At last the travelers spoke. “Great is my fortune to have encountered Khalid the Kind when Death held his cold hand upon my throat.”

“It was the will of God that you should live, I am but His poor servant,” Khalid responded. “Now you must drink more for truly you have not taken enough.”

“I would drink more of water but I am full, now I feel weakness and a great hunger, might I have some food?”

“Food, how can you think of food? Khalid cried. “It is water you need now. Not so long ago you were nearly dead of thirst. So drink and drink deeply.”

“Khalid, I am in your debt. But I have taken my fill of water and now I must eat.”

“I think the sun has addled your brain, my fine friend. You must drink more water or Death will claim you yet.”

The traveler turned his head away when Khalid offered him the ladle. Water spilled to the ground. Convinced that his new friend was insane for refusing the water he must need, Khalid swept him up from his resting place, and waded into the spring with the man in his arms. Again and again he dunked his new friend’s head into the water. The man choked and fought for air, swallowing great gulps of freshwater. Khalid was pleased.

When the traveler began to weaken, Khalid redoubled his efforts, holding the man under for longer periods to ensure that he would take water. Again and again the poor man was submerged until his strength waned to nothing, and Death did take him. The traveler died in Khalid’s powerful embrace.

Tears streaked the loving face of Khalid the Kind. “If only he had drunk a little more, he might have lived!” The man’s body was buried near the Oasis. His was not the only body laid to rest by Khalid the Kind. “Water, they must have water,” he muttered as he mounted his camel and headed out into the desert heat. (Dr. William Thomas; “The Eden Alternative.”)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Jul

The Music of Halacha: Loving Others

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha, Relationships

The first entry in my Service of God Notebooks in which I realized that there is Music to Halacha: “Everything that is brought to people who are having a meal that has a particularly wonderful aroma and thereby adds to the craving to eat the food; those who are eating must offer some of that food immediately to the person serving them. Offering some of every one of the dishes is a particularly fine way of doing this religious act (Shulchan Aruch; Orach Chaim 169:1).”

My father zt”l applied this law to any time I was eating a snack that looked particularly delicious, and insisted that I share it with my sister. He also insisted that when I was having a special joy in my learning, joy that was obvious to people around me, that I offer to study with anyone I would see who was not deriving joy from his learning. “Perhaps,” he said, “this is the meaning of what the Sages described as happening just before the destruction of the Second Temple: people were studying Torah even at a time of baseless hatred. People were soaring with joy in their learning and did not think to share that joy with others.” (Shabbat Devarim 5728 – 1968)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Jul

Loving Others By Using Your Talents

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships, Spiritual Growth

“Happy is he who understands, Maskil, the needs of the lowly (Psalm 41:2).” Rabbi Yonah said, “Happy is the person who uses his talents when giving to those in need.” What does Maskil really mean in this verse? That the person doing tzedakah takes and intense look at the midst of a situation at hand and considers the very best way to give back to the other person is or her decent and dignified life (Midrash Tehillim 41:3).”

“Charismatic leaders make us think, ‘ Oh, if only I could do that, be like that.’ True leaders make us think, ‘ If they can do that, then I can too’ (John Holt).”

There is more to being creative and using our talents in loving and helping others then the help itself; when we can exemplify a new approach to loving others and acts of tzedakah we can inspire others to say, “If he can do that, then I can too!” An important aspect of the mitzvah to love others is to inspire them to believe that they can achieve ever greater heights.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Jul

The Bath That Made Yom Kippur

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

Vladek was notorious, the subject of jokes and gossip in Auschwitz work camp X. He was a Polish country boy who received packages from home with fruit and woolen socks, so he was potentially a person of some standing. All the same, he never washed.

Otto, the German barracks chief, one of the first inmates of Auschwitz, #14, ordered him to bathe. First in a nice way, that is to say with insults, then with slaps and punches, but in vain.

There came a mild September Sunday, one of the rare work free Sundays, and Otto took out one of the huge soup tubs, rinsed it, and then filled it with hot water. He put Vladek in it and washed him from head to foot. Otto could have beaten him up or had him transferred to the punishment camp.

That evening was Yom Kippur eve, and the inmates got in line for soup, as on every other evening. Otto was in charge of dispensing the soup. When Ezra got in front of Otto, he did not hold out his mess tin. Instead, he said: “Mr. Barracks Chief, for us today is a day of atonement and I cannot eat my soup. I respectfully ask you to save it for me until tomorrow evening.”

In all his Camp years, Otto had never run into a prisoner who refused food. He told Ezra to step aside and come back to him after he had finished lading it out.

Was Ezra perhaps less hungry then on other days?

Ezra answered that certainly he was no less hungry, that on the day of Yom Kippur he should also abstain from work, but he knew that if he did so he would be denounced and killed, and therefore he would work because the law allows disobedience of almost all precepts and prohibitions in order to save a life. That nevertheless he intended to observe the prescribed fast because he wasn’t certain that this would lead to his death.

Otto could not believe that after so long in Auschwitz Ezra had any sins for which he had to atone. Ezra explained that the atonement was not a strictly personal matter. The day and the fast contributed toward obtaining forgiveness from God for sins committed by others. “My sins too,” asked Otto. “What about their sins,” he continued, pointing at the German guards.

Ezra answered that, unlike Jonah the biblical prophet who brought forgiveness for all people, he was a simple man. He must insist on asking Mr. Barracks Chief that his soup be saved until the following evening, and also next morning’s bread. Do not keep the soup warm; keep it cold.

Otto asked why, and Ezra answered that there were two good reasons for this, one sacred and one profane. In the first place, he began to speak in a Talmudic singsong and to sway a little back and forth from the waist up, according to some it was inadvisable to make a fire on Yom Kippur even by the hand of Christians. In the second place, Camp soup tended to go sour quickly, especially when kept in a warm place. All the prisoners preferred to eat it cold rather than sour.

The following evening Otto presented Ezra with a huge portion of bread and soup.

How did Ezra know he could risk asking Otto for this consideration? Because Ezra saw that Otto did not beat Vladek, that he rinsed this soup pot before the bath, and that he used hot water, not cold, to bathe Vladek. (Primo Levi; “Moments of Reprieve,” The Cantor and the Barracks Chief)

“Daniel set the resolve in his heart to not be defiled by the king’s food nor by his drinking wine, so he requested of the Officer of the Eunuchs that he not be defiled. The Lord gave Daniel to the Attributes of Kindness and Compassion before the Officer of the Eunuchs. The Officer said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has provided your food and your drinks, lest he see your face is more ill at ease than the other youths in your situation, and you will forfeit my head to the King!” (Daniel 1:8-10)

Once Daniel heard the Officer, rather than execute Daniel, speak from his heart, he knew that he would get his way.

It only takes one tiny act of compassion to open the door for other people to begin to hope. Daniel heard the compassion in the voice of the Officer, and Ezra saw the compassion in the bath that Otto gave Vladek.

Daniel, the teacher of how to survive and thrive in exile, taught us to look for, grab and hold on to such expressions of kindness and humanity. This is a lesson we must take with us, especially in our darkest moments. It is also a lesson that we must always offer such expressions of kindness to others so that they can find hope. When we hate each other, we destroy far more than relationships; we deprive others who live in a world of hate of the opportunity to discover seeds of hope.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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24
Jun

A Bow For One’s Students

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Relationships

“Moses heard and fell on his face.” (16:4)

I wonder how I would have reacted upon seeing Moshe bow and fall on his face.

I suspect that I would have immediately fallen on my face and waited for Moshe to signal that it was all right to rise. But the people did not fall on their faces; they watched, unmoved by the reaction of their great leader. Perhaps they shrugged off this terrifying scene because this was not the first time: “Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the entire congregation of the assembly of the Children of Israel.” (Numbers 14:5)

Is it possible that Moshe and Aaron were not bowing in weakness, or sadness, or fear, but as a lesson? How was it received, if it was a lesson?

“Then Israel prostrated himself towards the head of the bed.” (Genesis 47:31) “As the proverb says; “When the fox has his hour, bow down to him.” (Rashi) Jacob bowed to his son, Joseph, who was at his hour as the viceroy of Egypt.

I was extremely uncomfortable when my father zt”l would visit a synagogue where I was rabbi and insist that the congregation wait for me and not for him. I cannot even imagine watching my father bow to me! How could Joseph even bear to watch his father, Israel, bow to him? How could the Children of Israel stand and nonchalantly watch their teacher Moshe bow before or to them?

The Message:

The Brothers Karamazov begins with a confrontation among members of a scattered family. Three sons, all strangers to one another, and a dissolute, cynical father gather for the first time to discuss a quarrel about money, meeting, of all places, at a monastery: specifically, in the hermitage of Father Zosima, a man with a reputation, depending on your view, of either holiness or foolishness. The argument centers upon the eldest son, Dmitri, and his negligent father, Fyodor, and quickly takes on the appearance of a trial, with each man appealing to the elder Zosima for “justice”. But then, the narrator informs us, “the whole scene was stopped in a most unexpected manner”: “The elder suddenly rose from his place and stepped toward Dmitri Fyodrovich and, having come close to him, knelt before him. Kneeling in front of Dmitri, the elder bowed down at his feet with a full, distinct, conscious bow, and even touched the floor with his forehead. “Forgive me! Forgive me, all of you!’ he said, bowing on all sides to his guests.”

The elder Zosima bows to the ground before Dmitri who is suffering. He does not judge, for he knows from within himself this pettiness and arrogance. He sees himself darkly in Dmitri, and knows that this seeing is a gift. His bow and words simply return the gift purified.

Is it possible that Moshe’s bow was a message that he understood the nation’s response to the spies’ report? Was Moshe sending a message to Korach that he understood Korach’s issues: both the ones on Korach’s consciousness and those issues underlying his rebellion?

Did Moshe observe Korach and gain insight into himself? The Ba’al Shem Tov often taught that we observe in others what we do not want to see in ourselves. (Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer used this idea to explain Proverbs 4:25)

Perhaps Moshe’s fall to the ground was an acknowledgement of what he perceived as his own shortcomings; a message to all of Israel that he was aware of his limitations.

I wonder whether anyone watching had enough insight to reflect on the powerful image of Moshe falling on his face. I imagine chills running up and down my spine at the tangible expression of Moshe’s humility. I picture myself forever changed by the scene. The participants were unmoved. Their hearts were sealed by their anger and resentment.

Imagine anger so intense that it is impenetrable even by such an awesome expression of Moshe’s humility.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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2
Jun

“A Beautiful Phrase” by Prof Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Reflections & Observations, Relationships

A couple of months ago, I asked a Rabbi a question and he gave me an answer. When I saw him later that week, he said to me, “I was wrong. The answer is something else.” Why did I love that moment?

By telling me he was wrong and giving me the correct answer, he made several statements. He did not care what I thought about his being wrong. He respected my right to have the correct answer. He also showed his integrity by correcting himself and learning from his mistake.

Talmudic learning is done in pairs. Each person discusses his view on what the Talmud said, and many times there is a difference of opinion as to what the Talmud meant. Sometimes one person realizes his explanation is not valid. This happens several times during a study session. The most valuable aspect of this interaction is the ability to acknowledge you were wrong and to accept the correct interpretation. The search for truth involves a bumpy road.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting with my primary care physician and we were having a discussion about doctors. He told me his patients deserve to have a second opinion, because that will provide peace of mind if the first diagnosis is correct. It may also provide a better answer. He then said “A doctor that does not approve of getting a second opinion is a doctor worth leaving. He or she needs to know if the advice was incorrect.”

This week’s Torah reading talks about confessing a sin, saying “I was wrong.” Then you need to do something about it. Correct your mistake.

To quote Rabbi Joseph Telushkin ,“We all need to be more humble.” Saying, “I was wrong,” is humbling, constructive, and endearing. It is a beautiful phrase.

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23
May

Strangers in The World

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week, Reflections & Observations, Relationships, Spiritual Growth

As long as they were slaves, the Children of Israel could complain, “I, a stranger and afraid in a world I never made,” to quote Housman, a common complaint of children, and a frequent lament of many who feel displaced in the community. Perhaps as they approached Sinai, no matter how protected and supported by God, they continued to feel powerless in building their own world. When they would eventually enter the Land of Israel they would have to first conquer a world not their own, and then plant fields and build a land in which many of the factors were imposed, not their own. It is almost impossible to imagine being able to feel that all of my reality is my own. Except…

for the Children of Israel in the desert; Bamidbar. God provided a perfect physical environment and challenged them with the opportunity to create their own community free of any determining factors save their own desires and goals.

Each person stood before Moses and Aaron who would point out to him the purpose of his existence, his strengths, challenges, and potential. Each was empowered with a powerful sense of self as he became part of a community.

Lest we wonder whether such strong individuals could form a cohesive community, as we learn of Rabbi Akiva’s students who died because of their inability to connect to each other as the great people they were, each was assigned his place and specific role in the community; the famous flags in this week’s portion. This was a perfect opportunity for them to develop a reality all their own. They were free of the Egyptians, danger, and economic fluctuations. They were strong and independent. They were focused on a common goal. Their world would be just that, their world.

Imagine being able to educate our children with such a powerful sense of purpose and individuality! Imagine nurturing our children, not as “part of a community,” but as having an essential and unique role in the community! Society would not impose itself on the child, but rather, allow the child to use the world to help him find his own special place.

“Well and good,” you say, “but we don’t live in a desert or in a perfect environment free of the world around us!” How much independence can we nurture when we expend the majority of our effort on protecting what we already have from the world in which our community is, “a world I never made?” Can we really afford to focus on independence and self-expression when our community is under constant assault by a world whose values are so antithetical to our own?

The Jewish community was devastated by the Holocaust, and our great leaders decided that we had to focus our efforts on rebuilding communities. We witness the wisdom and success of their approach. We have thousands of schools, Yeshivot, communities, and institutions that protect and guide us. Is there really any place for the lesson of the desert encampment and its flags in our world and times?

The process in the desert did not begin with the community, but with Moses, Aaron, and the Princes of the Tribes. The Desert Flags are an instruction to our leaders, not the community or the people at large. The Flags demand that the communal leaders “Pakod,” or “appoint/assign” each individual: Each student, each child, must be taught how to become himself with a sense of unique purpose in order to become part of the community. The leaders may not count the numbers, as in, “We have more people studying in Yeshiva than ever before,” if they did not begin each child’s instruction with a sense of Pekida.

We will still have to battle to protect our community. We will remain “strangers in the world,” but we will not remain strangers to ourselves, “afraid in a world I never made.”

(See Chesed in Malchut)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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19
May

“The Five Second Lifetime Impression” by Prof Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Reflections & Observations, Relationships

In 1985, I attended the annual convention of the National Speakers Association. I had recently joined the organization, and was trying to learn how to become a professional speaker. One of the general session speakers was a man named Gene, who had won three Emmys writing for a famous television comedian.

After he finished speaking, there was a break before the smaller group sessions began. I was thinking of becoming a humorous speaker, so I approached him and was having a conversation about how to pursue that goal. At one point, a friend of Gene’s came up and started talking to him.

I figured my time with Gene had ended. I was grateful for the three-minutes, and began to turn to walk away. But out of the corner of his eye he saw me turning, and he waved with his hand that I should stay. After talking to his friend, Gene turned back and continued our conversation for another few minutes. I do not remember our conversation. But 26 years later, I still see the wave.

In 1966, I was in the yeshiva of Ner Yisrael in Baltimore. One day, Rabbi Shneur Kotler, the head of the world-renowned Lakewood yeshiva, visited our yeshiva. To understand the full impact of what happened next, you need context. The head of a yeshiva is treated with extreme respect. When he walks into a room, everyone rises. You talk to him in third person. For example,” Would the head of the yeshiva like a cup of coffee?” So, when I was introduced to him, I was startled when he slightly bowed to me. I later learned that his respect for people was on a very high level, and this behavior was not unusual. Forty five years later, I still see the bow.

In 1962, I was a freshman at Yeshiva University. My parents, my uncle and I drove to New York from my hometown. While my father was finding a parking space, my uncle and I walked into the dormitory to find my room assignment. Gary, an upperclassman who was in the lobby, opened his arms wide, smiled a big smile, and in a greeting that came from the tip of his toes to the top of his head, said, “Shalom aleichem”. That was the most genuine, welcoming shalom aleichem I have ever heard.

Whenever I went back home during the year, I would visit my uncle. His first words were not, “How are you, Gerald?” His first words were, “How is that shalom aleichem guy?” Forty nine years later, that shalom aleichem greeting still brings a smile to my face.

There is also the negative five second impact. Twenty two years ago, I was at a fundraiser for a politician in New York. A senator from another state had come to attend the event. I walked up to the man and said, “It is nice to meet you, Senator.” He replied, “Who are you?” I answered, “My name is Gerald August”. He turned and walked away. I still feel the insult.

In five seconds, we can create a lifetime memory. It can be a positive or a negative one. But even in such a short time, we can do or say something that will forever define us in someone’s mind. It doesn’t take a long time to make a lifetime impression.

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