Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Scarecrow and the Tinman
In this past weeks Jewish Press there was an excellent article by Carl Guzman about the importance of saying “Good Shabbas” which was taught to him by his late father.
When I first started becoming observant, I was living in center city
. I lived about a mile or so from the closest orthodox synagogue. On my long walks to shul on Shabbas, I hardly ever ran into another Sabbath observer. There just weren’t that many religious Jews in the city at the time. When I did spot someone, whether it was a friend or a out of town visitor, I was excited. I gave them a big smile and a nice “Good Shabbas” and usually got the same in return. Philadelphia
As I started exploring other communities, I came to a realization, the larger community and the more frum from birth (FFB) people there, the smaller the chance of getting a “Good Shabbas” greeting in return. And even if you got one, it typically didn’t have much feeling behind it. If you travel to places packed with observant Jews like
Israel or Brooklyn, it’s almost a guarantee to be ignored. The exact opposite was true in smaller and more Baal Teshuvah dominated communities. I always found this strange, but never thought that much about it.
About 3 years ago, my family and I went to the Philadelphia Zoo with some friends over Chol HaMoed Pesach. I’m not sure if the Zoo officials knew it in advance, but it was clearly Jew at the Zoo day. There were frummies every where. Typically when there was a frum out of town visitor to Philly, they would always be happy to return a d Good Shabbas or a Gut Moed. I guess that was because there weren’t so many Jews around. In their same neighborhood, they may have been less friendly, but when they were on the road, they’d turn the smiles on.
As my friend and I walked around, we would say Gut Moed, or Chag Sameach to the Jews that we passed and most gave us a blank look or a very under their breath return greeting. After a several rejections, I started to not say anything. After sometime, I started reconsidering. Is not greeting a fellow Jew the proper thing to do?
Ethics of Our Fathers teaches us that it’s commendable to greet everyone warmly. When it comes to Shabbas, saying “Good Shabbas” isn’t just a nice greeting. It’s remembering the Shabbas which is not only a Torah commandment, it’s laid out as part of the 10 statements in the Torah portion, Yisro, Zachar es yom HaShabbas. (Remember the Sabbath Day.) Should we blindly walk through our Judaism and not engage our fellow man with love and affection?