Photo Credit: Jewish Press

A shmooze is one of those activities whose value is never known until its conclusion.

I’m not referring to a mussar shmooze or a Torah shmooze; those are always worthwhile.


I am describing the “hanging out in the living room” and the “taking a long drive” shmooze. Those are two examples of shmoozes that can be recalled as anything from life-changing to dead on arrival.

One never knows what the effectiveness of a shmooze will be. Many of these often sensitive discussions depend on circumstance. Some shmoozes result in important decisions being made, points of view being changed and relationships being solidified. On the other hand, sometimes a shmooze falls like a lead balloon. Participants may simply not be in the shmooze mood or they may have little interest in the direction the shmooze is taking.

It was for this reason that the Segal Boys in our home established a rule: One may not force a shmooze.

They recognize that the impromptu encounter especially in the right setting has strong potential to be viewed at its conclusion as very valuable. At the same time when one, or more, tries to force a shmooze it has great potential to go nowhere. This theory has been tested time and time again by The Segals and they have endless evidence of the schmooze as a haphazard verbal adventure that goes nowhere and they have great appreciation for the times that one looks back at a schmooze with great satisfaction.


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Nachum Segal is the founder of the Nachum Segal Network (, the Jewish world’s premier English-language Internet radio network. He is best known as the force behind the popular radio show “JM in the AM - Jewish Moments in the Morning.”