Ready for an understatement?
Well, here it comes…
Our society has become very tough.
People don’t know how to disagree respectfully.
We’re bombarded with painful comments.
With words that cause pain. That put people down.
Human dignity has taken a big hit.
Which means that Jewish values have taken a big hit.
And it’s not only about politics.
It’s in the way we relate to each other.
And our tradition warns us that being exposed to these things?
Chips away at our sensitivities.
And diminishes us.
How should we respond?
By doing the opposite.
… There’s been a lot of talk about the need for role models.
For us and for our children.
And here’s a story I wanted to share.
Rabbi Yaakov Edelstein is a great Torah scholar in Jerusalem.
And is a true role model for his students and community.
He has suffered from a serious illness that left him unable to speak.
A pen and paper were the only way he could communicate.
But there was great news.
The therapist said that he may be ready to relearn how to speak!
So he asked the Rabbi, “Where should we begin?
How about writing down two words that you would like to start with?”
The rabbi thought for a moment.
“What two words would be the most helpful?
The two words I can’t wait to say?”
Then he reached a decision.
And wrote down two words.
Two words that say so much about him.
“Todah”. Thank you.
With the first?
He could thank all the people who were helping him so much.
His family, students, doctors and nurses and visitors.
With the second?
Until he is able to say thank You to G-d by reciting a blessing?
He could answer Amen to the blessings of others!
… Rabbi Edelstein should remind us to appreciate the gift of speech.
And should inspire us to use it properly.
So let’s press the reset button.
By going out of our way to say a kind word.
Words that will build people up. And bring them together.
It just takes seconds.
“I can’t thank you enough!”
“You inspire me!”
“I’ve been thinking about you. Just wanted to let you know I care.”
“I’m so proud of you.”
“Please let me do that for you.”
“You look terrific.”
“Your kid did something special”.
… Let’s try to make our world a better place again.
Word by word.
And to that we should say…