Yom revi'i, 12 Cheshvan 5772.
I have often thought about the human need for acceptance, and our reticence to give acceptance to others.
Since we all need it, you would think we'd be sensitized to the same need in our fellow man. Right?
Yet we gather in our little groups and decry other groups. We let slip careless and hurtful remarks behind each other's backs. We make assumptions that an accusation we hear is true, even without first-hand experience of the evidence. We fail to acknowledge those around us, totally oblivious to cries for help or the simple need for a smile.
Anyone who risks rejection by saying "Good morning" to a neighbor ought to always be greeted in return -- because the object of his greeting would also hate to feel rejected. Instead, day after day, he must exercise the muscle called Benefit of the Doubt, until it wears out, or until it is the strongest muscle in his body. Of course, there are plenty of reasons Ploni didn't smile at our brave soul. He may not have heard or seen him. His mind may have been on his own troubles, as small as a missing key or as great as catastrophic loss. But what if we all went out of our way, every day, to put out the smile welcome mat for people we pass on the street? (And no, o ye single minded straw man attackers: Of course I don't mean that six-year-old girls should smile at scary mugger types. Consider your cautious tone already acknowledged, and attend to my main point.)
I always told my boys: "There is no pareve encounter with another human being possible. You have the opportunity to do a kiddush Hashem or -- chas v'chalila -- a chilul Hashem." Translation: No encounter with another human being is meaningless. You can either advertise G-d in a positive way through your actions, or -- G-d forbid -- you indicate that people in skull caps and ritual fringes don't care about other people.
Please enjoy the following short video. It is a celebration of the concept of "pay it forward," how one small kindness begets another small kindness, and another, and another... (Hat tip to Mare Newcome-Beill. This is my kind of movie, Mare. Thank you!)
I don't care what my children and my grandchildren choose to do for a living. But I will feel that the Mizrachi Family Mission is accomplished if they string together lifetimes filled with small acts of kindness.