Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z”L had a very special custom. Shortly after a relative, friend or close student would move into a new home, he would ask to visit. Although he would only stay for a few minutes, R’ Shlomo Zalman made sure to walk through the entire apartment.
When questioned about this practice, Rav Shlomo Zalman would explain that he wanted to give his “ayin tova” (lit. “good eye”), a personal blessing, for positive vibes in the new home.
The Ramban (Bamidbar 1:45) relates that giving an “ayin tova” is one of the main reasons behind the census commanded to be taken in Parshat Bamidbar.
HaShem counted the children of Israel out of His boundless love for them. When something is cherished, like a special collection of art or mementos from around the world, we make certain to keep a close eye on it, at all times.
As part of the counting process in the parsha, each person passed before Moshe and Aharon in order that these two righteous leaders could give their own “ayin tova”, a personal viewing and blessing.
Those few seconds before the leaders made the people feel special through a brief but personal connection to the “father of all prophets” and the “Kohen Gadol– the High Priest”. They were not “just a number,” but rather an individual member of the Jewish nation. The Nazis, may their names and memories be obliterated, attempted to take the humanity from their prisoners by branding them with numbers. Recognizing another’s individuality helps them to identify and realize their unique potential.
We all appreciate personal attention from others in our lives. We all need to be recognized and acknowledged. Unfortunately, true human interaction has been replaced with “social media”, “remote learning,” and “virtual friends”. Texting, messaging (using abbreviations) and emojis are now considered acceptable forms of conversation. While convenient and cute, these types of communication can’t replace a real voice or a handwritten note.
We are all busy with our own lives and responsibilities. I do not imagine however, that any of us have more to do than Moshe, Aharon or Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. And yet, each of these giants took the time to greet and bless each and every member of the Jewish people that came their way.
Those few seconds of personal connection were of lifetime significance for the recipients of their attention.
I always marvel at the hosts of a simcha who take the time to go from table to table greeting their guests. During the height of their own special occasion, they take the time for that personal touch.
Let’s try to refocus on being real people again. Reach out to family, friends and neighbors with even a few minutes of a visit or telephone call. Instead of adding new “friends” and followers in social media, rekindle the true relationships with those important to you.
As the old telephone advertisement suggests, “reach out and touch someone”. Give them your time, your attention and an “ayin tova”, the few moments of positive influence that can make someone else feel truly special.