“A young girl once asked me, ‘Rebbetzin, would you mind if I ask you a personal question? You are always smiling. Where does your smile begin – on your lips or in your heart?’ I thought about it. The answer is it begins on my lips. I try to give my very best to the other person, even though my heart may not be feeling it. Then it travels to the other person’s heart and from there it comes back and warms my own heart.”
She repeated her earlier directive for added emphasis. “Smile with two eyes. Call your parents and wish them a good Shabbos. Look up from your cell phone or computer when a grandparent enters the room.”
She spoke about shalosh seudos. “Do you know why it’s so special? Friday night we have a meal. Who wouldn’t want such a meal? Candlelight, hot food. What a way to end the week. Shabbos morning, it’s nice, it’s wonderful, we enjoy. But shalosh seudos on Shabbos afternoon. Who wants to eat? You’re full. That meal you eat for Hashem. That meal you eat because it gives Hashem pleasure. It’s not for your stomach or your pleasure, it is in honor of Hashem.
“You know, in my neighborhood on Shabbos afternoons I give a talk about the parshah. Afterward I walk home. And it’s a long walk. When I get home, I’m tired. I’m a widow; I live alone. I would like to take a rest. But you know what I do? I take my two little challah rolls and I make a berachah on them and I eat – for my King. I eat for Him and I recite Psalm 23: ‘God is my Shepherd I shall not lack…. ”
The Rebbetzin cried as she spoke. She begged and she pleaded. She rebuked us and she loved us.“ I love you all, you are all my children, ” she said. She blessed us again and again, as if no amount of blessing would be good enough for us.
And then, having held the audience spellbound for a heart-stopping hour, she left – to the thunderous applause of 400 wide-awake souls.
About the Author: Rivka Malka Perlman is director of WOW! – a division of Etz Chaim, Baltimore.
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