Magazine article Tikkun

A Smart Heart

Magazine article Tikkun

A Smart Heart

Article excerpt

Three things in human life are important:

The first is to be kind.

The second is to be kind.

And the third is to be kind. -Henry James

Two Jewish High School Graduations

A student, speaking at her graduation from a Jewish high school last year, said: "Here we learned to be caring people ("Ba'alay Rachmanut"). Here we learned to be goodhearted (" Tovay Lev")."

I was there because I was the guest speaker, but, as far as I am concerned, that student stole the show. I was so moved that I wanted to get up right in the middle of her fourminute presentation to hug her, to hug the others who had prepared the speech with her, to hug all the graduates who clearly agreed with the sentiment.

I mention this because last summer a recent announcement from a different Jewish high school graduation in a Jewish paper caught my eye. Their ad featured a lovely picture of the graduates, a note of congratulation, and a list of all the colleges and yeshivas the students are attending this year.

To my mind, the school that proudly placed this announcement missed the point. The implication-unintended I am sure-is that the purpose of the education they offered was to get their students into fine colleges and yeshivas. What a contrast to the end-result of the other school: caring people, good-hearted people.

Jews have taken great pride in the intellectual achievements of their children, and justifiably so. As Jews, our history as immigrants in America made it critical that we get good jobs and have some stability in the New Land. My father, may he rest in peace, was going to be a doctor, no questions asked. That was the message from his Russian immigrant parents who had a small drygoods store in New Jersey.

Another Quote

Rav stated: The Mitzvot were given in order to refine human beings.

-(Leviticus Rabba 13:3 [Margoliot Edition])

Torah study ought to lead us to a life of Mitzvahs. And, if we take Rav's statement seriously, Mitzvahs have the ability to help mold our character. Mitzvahs can filter out jealousy, mean-spiritedness, prejudice, hatred, self-centeredness, melancholy, despair, and divisiveness, and foster such human qualities as love, caring, joy, optimism-about-life, altruism, and desire-for-Menschlichkeit. Of course, doing X or Y or Z does not automatically mean that the Mitzvah-doer will become an A or B or C type of person. …

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