Friday, November 09, 2007

Litmus Test

This Table Talk is in honor of Yaakov Felson and Ariel Yoseph Pollock, both of whom joined the world in the past couple weeks on opposite ends of the country (Ariel Yoseph entered the Covenant this morning in Miami). Mazal tov!

Have you ever noticed how children’s honesty challenges develop as they grow up?

Our youngest, Devorah (nearly 2), is the most straightforward of all. When she’s happy to see you she smiles. When she’s hungry or tired, she cries. When she wants something she points and when she doesn’t want it she waves her hand.

One of her older siblings is honesty-challenged when it comes to personal hygiene: “Did you remember to wash your hands?” She hates to wash those hands, but we saw her starting to lie about it. So instead of asking her a yes-no question like above, I started simply assuming that she didn’t - “Please go back and wash your hands” - and she does; if she tells me that she did already, I believe her.

One of her older siblings has overcome the honesty challenge at school. I’ve let them know that I expect them to learn in school, but that I love them the same regardless of how they do, because I don’t want them ever to hide their failures from me. When this child recently failed a vocabulary test, s/he didn’t try to hide it from me, but announced with some embarrassment, “You’re not going to like the score I got on my test.” But then s/he immediately plunged into the well-known consequence in our household: go look up all the words you missed and study them, because you’re going to take the test again, whether or not your teacher agrees to re-mark it, because you are responsible for learning those words.

And then there’s us adults.

It’s one thing to be considerate of other people’s feelings and needs.

It’s another thing to be scheming strategizing and politicking in order to manipulate other people’s feelings and needs to achieve our own goals. Do you know anyone who is completely non-manipulative, not scheming, purely genuine? How about yourself? How is it possible to know?

The problem is that we’re so caught up in outer appearances that only one in ten people are able to judge themselves critically and honestly.

But the modern world has given us a great tool, and the wonderful expression, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Money is a great measure of value and values.

You want to know objectively if you’re being genuine?

Step 1:

On a scale of one to five (five being the highest), how important are the following to you? You cannot have more than three 5s or three 4s, and you must have at least two 3s, two 2s and two 1s.

Nurture my relationships with my family
Being well educated
Making a contribution to my community
Having a happy and fulfilling marriage
Being well-liked
Having a good reputation
Financial success
Getting all the latest and greatest gadgets
Peer recognition in my career or profession.
Personal fulfillment
Helping other people
Giving myself and/or family a good Jewish education
Making a contribution to humanity
Achieving peace of mind
Having children
Living in the home of my dreams
Acquiring self-knowledge
Seeing as much of the world as possible
Living a long, healthy life.

Step 2:

Sit down and figure out how and what you’ve spent your discretionary dollars on the past year. 50% on gadgets? Figure it out. Be honest.

Step 3:

Compare your two lists. How would you grade yourself - are you living according to your values? Give yourself a grade, A through F.

Step 4:

This is the hardest one: send me an email with your grade, and if you’re earning less than an A+, tell me how you’re going to make it up.

Shabbat Shalom

Speaking schedule – save the dates:
November 13-14 - California
November 17 – Washington, DC. and Baltimore
December 5 – Los Angeles (Hannuka party)

(For details, send an email)

Yiddish of the week:

emes - truth
sheker - falsehood

Yiddish review – how many do you remember?

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
rachmanus — mercy
neshoma (neh-SHOH-ma) — soul
minig — custom, as in, "Why do you do that?" "It's my minig!"
Gavaltig — wonderful
Oy gavalt — How wonderful (sarcastic)
Azoy gait es! — That's how it goes!
Shabbos — Cessation; stopping; day of cessation; weekly Sabbatical experience.
("Gut Shabbos" — "Enjoy your weekly sabbatical experience")
neshoma — Soul
meshugass — insanity
meshuganeh — insane
kyna hara — no evil eye
shvitz - sweat
shanda – shame
L’chayim! - Cheers!
Pinteleh Yid - the Jewish feeling in the heart of every Jew
Zreezus – zeal
m’kohm – place (pl. mkohmas)
mamalashen – mother tongue
kvetch – complaint
kvell – burst with pride
bashert – meant to be, pre-destined, as in, “He’s my bashert” or “It was bashert that...”
hishtadlus – effort, due diligence; as in, “Do your hishtadlus and let Hashem worry about it.”
Yiddishe kopf – Jewish knowledge and perspective (lit., Jewish head)
Gut yahr! – Happy New Year!
Gut yontiv – Happy Holiday (chag sameach)
yarmulke – skull cap
tikkun – repair
tikkun olam – rapairing the World
noodge - a whiner (rhymes with "would")
to noodge - to whine or nag

No comments: