Monday, October 27, 2014

Shammai Solicits Social Smiling






I saw a beautiful Vort this past week in a sefer Shaarei Ahron. He quotes Rav Dessler, who said in the name of his father, regarding the 15th Mishna of the first Perek of Avos. Shammai says:

והוי מקבל את כל האדם בסבר פנים יפות 

 One should greet every individual cheerfully.

Yet we don't Pasken like Bais Shammai, so why is this said over in his name?

The answer is that if it were Hillel who said it, people would say that it is only a Midas Chassidus, being that Hillel was always so patient with everyone and always went לפנים משורת הדין.

ולבן שנים מחלב אל תיקרי לבן שינים אלא לבן שנים פשטיה דקרא במאי כתיב כי אתא רב דימי אמר אמרה כנסת ישראל לפני הקב"ה רבונו של עולם רמוז בעיניך דבסים מחמרא ואחוי לי שיניך דבסים מחלבא מסייע ליה לר' יוחנן דאמר ר' יוחנן טוב המלבין שינים לחבירו יותר ממשקהו חלב שנאמר ולבן שנים מחלב אל תקרי לבן שינים אלא לבון שינים

The Gemara in Kesuvos 111B says that "teeth are preferred over milk". In other words, if you meet a person, he would rather that you greet him with a warm smile than present him with a cold cup of milk.

I've often wondered how one would be able to be Mekayem Shammai's dictum. Perhaps in the shtetlach and small towns of yesteryear one would be able to greet all passersby; but in our day and age, particularly Manhattan's pedestrian traffic, this becomes an impossibility.

Yet if we follow Shammai's words, all is clear. We need to keep a perpetual smile on our faces when we are seen in public. Everyone who passes us by will then have a lift in their day.


8 comments:

  1. 1) We usually follow Beis Hillel when they disagree with Beis Shammai. Does the rule hold up for Hillel and Shammai themselves?
    2) Even if it does, where do we see that Hillel disagrees?
    3) Yes, in Manhattan it's impossible to greet everyone and frankly it would be creepy if you tried but you're not always in downtown Manhattan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. I don't think so.
      2. He doesn't disagree, but had this been said in his name, we would say it is something nice to do , but not a requirement.
      3. I think this explains well why New Yorkers are chastised for not saying Good Shabbos to everyone, whereas out-of-towners do. There are just so many people passing by.

      Delete
  2. "We need to keep a perpetual smile on our faces when we are seen in public. Everyone who passes us by will then have a lift in their day."

    Perpetual smile = continuous smile. Seems like a carricature of a politician. ;-)

    I don't think it is possible to do so. Also, if it is a perpetual smile, it may be, or come across, as false. I don't think Shammai's teaching should be stretched into that.

    Maybe קבלת אדם means people we interact with, people we receive, which is what קבלה means, not just anyone who passes by?

    Also, we need to think about what סבר פנים יפות means. I think the literal meaning is more like a pleasant expression rather than with a smile. A pleasant expression is not necessarily a smile. There is some room between a smile and a frown, and between a blank expression and a smile as well, it seems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your explanation of קבלת אדם. I think you just might be correct. But it is certainly a Peshat specifically for our day and age. Years ago it would be possible to be Mekabel everyone you met.

      Delete
  3. "I once heard an explanation of the Pasuk ולבן שנים מחלב, part of Yaakov's blessing to Shevet Yehudah, that it is to be translated as "teeth are preferred over milk". In other words, if you meet a person, he would rather that you greet him with a warm smile than present him with a cold cup of milk."

    Are you referencing the gemara in Kesuvos 111b, דאמר רבי יוחנן: טוב המלבין שינים לחבירו יותר ממשקהו חלב,
    שנאמר 'ולבן שנים מחלב': אל תקרי 'לבן שינים' אלא 'לִבּוּן שינים' or saying something somewhat different?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are correct. I will incorporate this in the post. Thank you.

      Delete
  4. based on the state of todays dental hygiene perhaps the drashaי of the passuk should be retrofitted to read וצהוב שניים מחלב

    ReplyDelete
  5. Smiling Alter Mirrer videoNovember 4, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Check out this video of a smiling Alter Mirrer - http://mrlitvak.blogspot.com/2014/10/alter-mirrer-r-moshe-pivovoz-zl-recalls.html

    ReplyDelete

Locations of visitors to this page