If I were to tell strangers about the very kind messages I receive from readers, they might think I was exaggerating. But the truth is that several readers from far across the seas and oceans, people whom I have never met, take time from their busy lives to share kind words with me regarding something I had written.
The proverb “Far from the eye but near to the heart” can explain it more clearly than I can. It is quite similar to one of my favorite Hebrew phrases. “Dvarim she yotz’im min ha lev nichnasim el toch ha lev”…
Words which come from one heart enter into many other hearts.
The greatest gift that one can give to another is a repertoire of kind words which come, not from the mouth, but rather, from the heart. I am so grateful to be a recipient of that repertoire.
Today, gracious words from three readers in far off places. One in the United States (Florida), one from Havana, Cuba and one from not-too-far-away Hadera .
A Chassidic rabbi once heard a young boy cursing another boy. So the rabbi walked over to him and told him a very meaningful parable. “Take a pillow and cut it open. What do you think will happen?”, he asked. And the boy replied: “if I cut it open all the feathers will fly away in the wind”.
The rabbi said to him “You are very bright. But you know that if the feathers fly, you cannot gather them up and bring them back to the pillow. So it is, my son, with words. Once they are spoken, they cannot be taken back. Go to the boy you have cursed and ask him to forgive you . Then you will know that your words, once spoken, cannot be returned. Therefore, my son, speak only good and kind words”.
Because we are human, we often react in anger to words which hurt us. But that anger helps neither the speaker nor the one spoken to. The Torah instructs us to “ guide your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking unkind words”. Believe me when I say that it is not such an easy thing to do. Anger hurts and angry words hurt.
And speaking (writing) honestly, I do not always follow the Chassidic rabbi’s good advice. When someone shouts a curse at me or negative remarks about me or those near and dear to me, I do not forgive so quickly. The problem is that the anger I feel begins to seethe and to grow more intensely within me.
“Count to ten”, a friend once advised me. “Count to ten before you respond. And then, count to ten once more.”
(It doesn’t work for me. After counting to one hundred, the anger does not disappear).
One of the main Talmudic proverbs by which I have tried to live all of my life deals with friendship. In its Aramaic words it is profoundly true (especially for me). “O chevruta o mituta”… give me friendship or give me death. For a life without good friends is not a life at all. It is loneliness and misery.
The friends who are far away from me are very dear to my heart. Their kindness, their generous thoughts, their warm, caring, compassionate words reach the very depths of my heart and fill my soul with immense pleasure.
I don’t know them but I bless them. They may be very far away from me physically but spiritually and emotionally they continue to live within my aging heart.