Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 1)


As a way to prepare for the High Holidays, I re-read Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well by Rabbi Telushkin last Shabbat. I unfortunately believe that, in this area, there is always room for improvement, at least as far as I am concerned.

After dealing with the power of speech and Jewish law on this topic, Rabbi Telushki devotes a chapter to “words that heal”. He cites Rabbi Riemer and a sermon he once delivered on Yom Kippur asking his congregants to be careful about what they say to others. He urged them to use four simple phrases more often in their every day dealings with their fellow men. Rabbi Telushkin then suggests we add another one.

The first sentence is to say “thank you” more frequently. This reminded me of an anecdote I read in a parshah commentary by Rabbi Sacks a couple of weeks ago.

Because of his functions, Britain’s chief rabbi and his wife regularly give dinner parties. Obviously when these visitors leave they thank their hosts. Yet once a guest also asked to be taken to the kitchen to thank the people who had made and served the food. This unusual guest was no other than John Major, Britain’s former Prime Minister. He may have been less charismatic than his predecessor but he was obviously a man who did not believe it was below him to express gratitude.

Every day we come across a lot of people who do things for us – whether they are relatives, friends, colleagues, cleaners… Thanking them is easy, takes very little time and contributes to making the world a better place, even if it is in a very modest way.


15 thoughts on “Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 1)

  1. I like that story about John Major!

    And on that note: Thank YOU for your wonderful blog – especially for thoughtful posts such as this one and lovely photos like the tranquil scene above!

    • Thank YOU for your wonderful blog – especially for thoughtful posts such as this one and lovely photos like the tranquil scene above!
      Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment.

  2. I liked the story about John Major, also.

    I really try to go out of my way to be kind and considerate to others around me. This last Sunday in my 10K race, I took the time to thank all the volunteers that I passed, because they make the race possible. I just wanted them to know that they are appreciated. I think that is what it is all about, feeling valued.

    Great post and a big thank you for this wonderful Blog! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Here’s hoping… « Shavu'a Tov!

  4. What a heart-warming story on John Major.

    Thank you for this lovely post, and important reminder to thank others.

    I love the bench and the tree in the above photo.

  5. That is such a great book, and kudos to you for reading it and posting about it! I agree that speech is an area that can always be improved.

    Thank you for the great post, and I’m looking forward to applying this tip!

  6. Saying thank you is indeed a beautiful thing to do.

    We were at the home of George Washington today – he was a man with a sense of gratitude. Upon his death, all his slaves were set free, as was his wish. And he never seized total power of the country, even though he had the opportunity twice. Though I left there wondering what his faults were…

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