Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Power of "Good Shabbos" & Saying Hello To People Generally

So we've started to keep Shabbos more. I don't drive, which is driving me a little bit crazy actually, don't go to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble or shopping. I don't do laundry.

I feel unproductive on Shabbos, but paradoxically more at peace. The family is together. Although I still use the computer, too much and they complain that I'm not paying enough attention. Plus there is no fancy Shabbos meal waiting when we get home from our morning walk.

But one really nice thing is how people say "Good Shabbos" to us. I can't tell exactly how we landed on that side of the dividing line that says, you're one of us even though you don't go to synagogue enough and even though you aren't as religious. But it feels really good to be part of things.

We have these narrow sidewalks near the synagogue, and each and every person, or almost each, says "Good Shabbos."

I thought to myself yesterday that this very small gesture means so much. 

  • You can know the entire Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law). 
  • You can stand in synagogue all day. 
  • You can check wads of romaine lettuce for bugs to make sure you're within spec as to what an observant person is supposed to do. 

But if you can't say hello to a person, if you can't make them feel warm and welcome and part of the same Jewish community as you on a Sabbath, then you're a colossal asshole and don't understand the first thing about Judaism.

The same principle holds true at work. 

You can have all the management platitudes about core values, all the corporate newsletters, all the intranets and nice speeches. 

But if people can't say a simple hello in the hallway then something is seriously wrong, and the office is a miserable place to be.

One of the things I learned in school was the evil nature of "sinas chinam," literally hating on each other for no reason at all. 

We still haven't learned. But there is evidence in my little world that things are getting better. 

I like it.

Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government.