Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Be pleasant!

Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, author of the numerous essays and articles that comprise the Michtav M'Eliyahu, would often be called upon by tzedakkah collectors in his home in Bnei Brak. In those days, there was a certain scarcity that we could never relate to, and the Ponovezh Yeshiva had trouble making payroll on many occasions; it goes without saying that there were instances where Rav Dessler simply didn't have anything to give this poor man.

Nonetheless, Rav Dessler would invite him into his home, and sit with the man for a nice amount of time, engaging in pleasant conversation. He would ask the man about his background - where was he from? who lived there? did so-and-so live in that little town? After establishing a commonality with the man and making him feel good about the fact that such an esteemed personality such as Rav Dessler recognized his little town and knew people there, Rav Dessler would sit for a little while longer, making this man feel like an actual human being rather than a faceless meshulach going door to door, collecting alms without garnering any real attention to himself.

Very often, that man would leave Rav Dessler's home feeling better than he would if he had received a hefty donation.

If a Torah giant could spare time from his busy schedule to give a little recognition to a stranger, to offer some validation to a person many of us wouldn't give a moment's thought to - how much more so when it comes to us and the people that we deal with on a regular basis...

Engaging in pleasant conversation is not a formality - it is an essential tool to establishing positive relations with others.


  1. Wow. I actually told over this same story to my 5th grade son during Chol Hamoed. Someone I was with was playing a new CD put out by a teen outreach organaiztion. One of the songs my son and I heard seemed to be making fun of meshulachim and those to have to be on the street asking for tzedakkah. The lack of Tzelem Eliokeim and Kkavod ha'brios in the song lyrics really turned me off.

  2. I hear you, Neil.

    The unfortunate truth is that many of our "entertainers" and others involved in disseminating messages feel that they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator of our community.

    That stereotype is a very prevalent one, and is consistent with calling meshulachim "shnorrers".