Friday, April 27, 2007

Love Yer Neighbor

This week’s Table Talk is dedicated to Yiddel ben Fruma for a speedy recovery. (To dedicate a future Table Talk, please send an email.)

There was a remarkable interview on the radio this week. I heard the head of General Motors asked to explain why his company has been outpaced by Toyota.

He replied with stunning honesty: “We were blinded by low gasoline prices and sales of SUVs.” Suddenly, gas shot up to $3.50 a gallon and we were unprepared.

So this leads to a question for your table:

How should a person react when you hear that someone else did or is doing better than you?

You get a “B” on a test, your friend gets an “A” - how should you react?

You’re an Orioles fan, how do you feel towards Red Sox fans?

You make $40 an hour, your third cousin makes $200,000 an hour, how should you feel about that?

The converse question is also worth asking:

How should a person react to another’s difficulties?

You got an “A” on your test and your rival got a “A-”, how do you feel?

You’re walking through the library and you see someone’s jacket has fallen off their chair onto the floor. The owner is not around. Pick it up or ignore it?

You see someone parked and left their lights on. Do you ignore it or try to rectify the situation?

A friend or family member makes a dietary change (starts to eat vegan, low-carb, kosher, halal, etc.) - do you try to accommodate happily or make a fuss?

The Jewish idea of “love your neighbor” does not mean that you always have to put your neighbor first. The full expression is “love your neighbor as yourself” - I should treat another person’s property, feelings and honor as well as I treat my own.

Ask people at your table to come up with their own situations where one’s commitment to “love your neighbor” is challenged.

Do you remember Professor Librescu (last week’s hero from Virginia Tech who did put other people's needs before his own)? At his funeral last Friday, his widow said that his favorite mitzvah was lighting Shabbat candles. She asked that Jewish people around the world light candles in his memory, for the uplift of his neshoma (soul).

To check the candle-lighting time where you are, look up sunset on your local weather page and subtract 18 minutes, or go to this website or this one.

Shabbat Shalom.

My upcoming speaking schedule:
May 14 – New York and New Jersey
June 12-14 – San Francisco area classes
June 15-16 – Shabbat Scholar-in-Residence, San Francisco
Late June – Philadelphia (TBA)

(For details, send an email.)

Yiddish of the week:
neshoma (neh-SHOH-ma) — soul

Yiddish review - how many do you know?
anee — poor person
koptsen — panhandler
ballaboss — homeowner; layman
nu — various meanings (see archives)
mishpocha — family
mameh — mother
tateh — father
mazal – (MAH-z’l) luck or fortune, as in, “It was good mazal that....”
beshert – (b’shairt) - meant to be, as in “It was beshert that...”
mine eltern – my parents
mine lair-er – my teacher
hamantashen – Haman-pockets
zeigezunt – all the best (said upon parting)
kesher - connection
Ikh volt veln a kave, zayt azoy gut. - I'd like a coffee, please.
...kave mit shmant. – ...a coffee with cream.
...kave mit milkh. – ...a coffee with milk.
...kave mit tsuker. - ...a coffee with sugar.
Di Fir Kashes - The Four Questions
Oy vey! - Good grief!
mensch — a decent person
rachmanos — mercy

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