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Home » High Holidays

New Year Greeting 5770: Words Make A Difference

Submitted by on September 21, 2009 – 5:02 pmNo Comment | 1,320 views

When I visit my parents in Boston I am often struck by the adjustment in dimension from my childhood memories. Everything that I remembered as large, houses, streets, pools and yards, seem small by comparison. The only exceptions are the trees that enclose my parents’ backyard. They seemed huge back then and they still are; rising to at least fifty feet in height they easily exceed our three story home.

My thoughts wandered back to the gardener that planted it. Was he aware of the long lasting, tall standing effect of his efforts? Did he contemplate the large and proud trees that his delicate seedlings would produce?

I thought of the lovely passage, chanted every year in the month of Ellul, ”Man is like the tree of the field.” Indeed, King Solomon taught, “Educate a child in accordance with his path, When he is older he will not veer from it.” Just like a seedling, what we say or do to a child, forms a deep impression and has long lasting effects. But children are hardly alone in this, adults are susceptible too.

One Friday afternoon, in the Subway, one of my colleagues engaged a Jewish woman in conversation. When he reached his stop he encouraged her to light Shabbos candles that night. “Do it for me,” he said.

Many years later this woman met my colleague and told him the rest of the story. She thought about his words that day and decided to light the candles, but she did not stop there. Why should she do it for him, she thought, when she is just as Jewish herself? She proceeded not only to light the candles but to undertake complete Shabbos observance. Ten years later she had opportunity to thank the person who had taken an interest and sparked the journey of her return.

Small words and little gestures go a long way if we only have the courage to say and make them. Long standing observances and beautiful traditions can emerge from a single exchange. With a new year around the corner let us reflect in gratitude on those who unwittingly inspired us. Those who took a moment to offer a word of encouragement or advice that resulted in life changing decisions that improved our careers, confidence or religious way of life.

Let us also pay it forward. Take a moment to guide a junior colleague, encourage a child or inspire an adult. You never know the effect of your words. You never know how far they will go. You never know for what you will be thanked.

Our words can make a difference. Let’s make it happen.

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