Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 3)


The third and fourth phrases Rabbi Riemer encouraged people to say more often were “How are you?” and “What do you need?”. Rabbi Telushkin explains that by asking these questions we take into account the person we are addressing as an individual, and not in their relation to us.

Conversely at present in France, people tend to say “tu vas bien?” which more or less corresponds to “you’re fine?”. This leaves very little room for the person we are talking to to say no and explain what is wrong. Unwillingly we are sending the message that we just want to be polite and go on with our own life without taking the risk of being disturbed by something we might not want to hear.

I find the second sentence more difficult to apply in my everyday life -except when dealing with people I am close to – but maybe this is because I am not trying hard enough.

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 1)

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 2)


12 thoughts on “Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 3)

  1. Unfortunately, when most people (myself included, I must admit) ask, “how are you?” they don’t really wait to hear the answer.

    Instead, hihowareyou? has become almost a one-word greeting…

  2. Yes, How are you? rarely wants an answer other than fine, thanks, and you. Personally, I am always interested in hearing how the other person is doing, even if it is to complain. Though I must admit that if it is my father (or my daughter), I do lose some patience at times…

    Often I get distracted by my own “stuff” – this is a good reminder to engage others and allow them to feel comfortable talking about both the good and the bad in their lives.

    One of the nice things about responding to a blog post like yours is it allows us time to say something about what you are saying… like we asked “How are you?,” you answered with this blog post, and we then respond to your answer, hopefully in a way that makes you feel heard.

  3. This is a refreshingly honest post and it really made me think hard.

    The type of questions we ask each other about how we are feeling are so much directed at our own selves, our own thoughts and needs – it’s more about (I think) what we want to project, that we want to be seen to be caring, not that we really and truly care so much. And then we get knotted up in the complexities of it all. I for one find it very difficult to deal with obvious displays of caring and concern directed at me, which is ridiculous! But I have been brought up in a British society where it is deemed polite to ask how somebody is, but not go over the top with all of that concern.

    Right now, I am in a bit of a difficult health spot, but I reacted really rather awkwardly when a good friend of mine expressed real heartfelt care and concern towards me a few days ago. Some of that was a symptom of the condition itself, but some of it was due to my very British way of life. I have to get used to the Jewish way, the real way, actually, of behaving like a loving, caring friend. And part of that is gracefully accepting that care and concern and not disgracefully rebuffing it like a spoilt child.

    Thank you, Ilana Davita, for writing this post.

  4. Thanks for this lovely post. Rabbi Telushkin is such a sage when it comes to humaneness, and interacting with others.

    How are you, especially after your trip? Is there anything that you need? I’m here, whenever, whatever.

    Hugs to you.

    • I received another of his books this morning and will use it for further RH preparations, although I was tempted to buy the one you mentioned.
      Thanks for your concern. I am so lucky to have some great “online” friends.
      The trip was great in many ways and then we drove to the South of France and came back on Sunday. I don’t feel tired however and now need to concentrate on school.

      • I am glad you had a great trip! I’m glad you aren’t tired…as is often the case after traveling.

        I did buy Waiting for Rain: Reflections at the Turning of the Year, by Bryna Jocheved Levy, and should have it by Friday.

        I have been reading Rabbi Telushkin’s books the past couple of weeks, also. I do every year.

  5. Hi ilanadavita, your whole series of posts have been awesome and something I have been reflecting on since the first post. Actually there is room for improvement here for me, which I will work on through the coming new year. Plus, I might have to get my hands on these books. 😉

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