Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Proper Jewish Greeting

On of the hardest habits to acquire is always greeting one’s fellow Jew with a radiant smile. Rav Avraham Grodzinsky, zt”l, a great gaon and ba’al mussar, worked two full years to acquire this middah. Even in the ghetto during WWII, his face was always shining.
Despite the challenges, it is not surprising that Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, also mastered this trait and greeted everyone with a smile. He was exceedingly careful to fulfill every detail of halachah or middas chassidus with great joy, so why should this be different? Even at a very advanced age when the Rav was already quite frail, he would go to any lengths to act in accordance with what he understood to be Hashem’s will. The Rav was always very careful to greet everyone he met, friend or self-proclaimed foe.
On the last motzei Shabbos of a year during which Rosh Hashannah came out in the middle of the week, Rav Sonnenfeld was on his way home when he encountered a neighbor who wished him “gut voch.”
The Rav responded warmly in Yiddish by wishing him a good year: “Gut yohr.”
The man had hardly continued on when the Rav called him back. “In Gittin 62 we find that if one receives a brocho should give an even greater brocho back. The custom is to respond to those who wish us a good week with ‘a good year’ since this is a bigger blessing. This particular week is the exception to the rule, since Rosh Hashanah is on Tuesday and the week extends until motzei Shabbos. So my brochah was less than yours.” He looked at the man with his shining, happy countenance and proceeded to heap brochos on the gratified man until he was satisfied that he had fulfilled his duty.


yehupitz said...

What a beautiful and thoughtful story about R Sonnenfeld. Thank you.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Thank you for the kind words of chizuk!