#FamilyFriday | The School of Hadassah

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
— The apostles Paul and Peter

I know that #FamilyFriday is supposed to be all about teaching our children as we walk, eat, lay down - basically at every opportunity. But what happens when our children have taught us something? I, hopefully, learn the lesson, and one day I may have the opportunity to remind her of what she taught me.

Growing up in the church, whenever this verse was talked about, without fail someone would write it off as a "cultural thing" that we don't have to do anymore. Wait, we can pick and choose which of the commands we follow based on what fits into our culture and society? Shouldn't it be the other way around? It's my understanding that God's word and the way He has asked us to live our life is going to look less and less like what our society deems normal. 

Don't worry guys, I'm not going to actually kiss you every time I see you. But let's look at what the underlying principle is. We should be able to greet one another with a sincere love, and a desire to encourage and uplift one another. If the other person has offended you, those issues have to be taken care of in order for you to be able to greet them like this. You have to go out of your way and put yourself second to actually do these things. And sometimes it you have to pull together an enormous amount of energy just to greet your neighbor. No wonder so many people have written it off as a cultural thing. It's hard to do.

But it's worth it.

We've been reading Dale Carnegie for both our businesses as well as our personal life. He has plenty to say about this.

Your smile is a messenger of your good will. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.
— Dale Carnegie
Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, “I like you, You make me happy. I am glad to see you.” That is why dogs make such a hit. They are so glad to see us that they almost jump out of their skins. So, naturally, we are glad to see them.
— Dale Carnegie

This doesn't seem so hard. Just smile at those you see. But to be honest, I've got to dig down deep to make myself want to do this.

And then I read this story.

Greeting people you pass, particularly on a regular basis, with a warm ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ establishes a human connection between those who otherwise might have no link at all. Yaffa Eliach’s remarkable Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust tells the story of a Hasidic rabbi who lived in Dangiz in the 1930’s. Each morning he used to take a stroll; taking care to fulfill Rabbi Yochanan’s dictum, he would greet every man, woman, and child “with a warm smile and cordial ‘good morning.’” Over the years, the rabbi became aquainted with many of his fellow townspeople... and would always greet them by their proper title and name.’ In the fields near the town, there was a farmer whom he used to pass. ‘Good morning, Herr Muller,’ he would greet him. ‘good morning, Herr Rabbiner,’ the man would respond.
When World War II erupted, the rabbi’s walks stopped, while Herr Muller left his fields and joined the SS. After losing his family at the Treblina deathcamp, the rabbi himself was deported to Auschwitz. One day a selection occurred during which all the Jewish inmates had to pass in front of the Nazi officer, who signaled some people to go to the left, to the gas chambers, and others to the right, to a life of slave labor. By this time the rabbi, who had long suffered from starvation and disease, already looked like a ‘walking skeleton.’
As the line moved forward, the voice directing people to the right and to the left started to sound familiar. Soon the rabbi could see the face of the man who was sending people to life or death. As he stood in front of the officer, he heard himself saying, ‘Good morning, Herr Muller.’
’Good morning, Herr Rabbiner!’ the man responded. ‘What are you doing here?”
Saying nothing, the rabbi smiled faintly; seconds later, Herr Muller lifted his baton and signaled the rabbi to go to the right, to life. A day later he was transferred to a safer camp, and survived the war.
The Rabbi, Yaffa Eliach reports, now in his eighties, told me in his gentle voice, ‘This is the power of a good-morning greeting. A man must always greet his fellow man.’
— Rabbi Joseph Telushkin

After studying the writings of both these wise men, and really trying to get down to the root of what the apostles were trying to remind us to do, I tried my best to greet those who I passed. Some days, and with some people, it was really difficult to do it, to put a smile on my face and greet them. I saw some faces genuinely light up, but many others were just mimicking my own. But I was still having a hard time. There were days I still wasn't convinced, and other days I was just selfish. 

But then, here comes my daughter.

We went grocery shopping the other night. Hadassah had been having a really rough day and we thought it might help to get her out of the house. Ever since she was old enough to be aware of others' presence, she would always give everyone she passed the most ridiculously cheesy smile. I, literally, have seen her change people's attitudes and turn their day around. So the other night, as we were leaving the check-out lane, she stopped and waved at the cashier, then at the greeter at the door, and then at a really intimidating ex-football player sitting on a bench. They all loved it, of course, but they were about to turn their attention away - and then she blew kisses to all of them! She transformed their day. You could see it on their faces. She was the sun breaking through the clouds, like Dale Carnegie wrote about.They even followed us around the corner so they could catch one more wave or smile from her.

Tonight at the dinner table, ask yourself and your family: Is there anyone who you wouldn't be able to honestly greet with love? Why? What can you do about it? And then set a goal for tomorrow that you're going to greet 5 people who you pass. Give them a genuine smile and say "Good morning!"