I was so proud of my online student that I helped prepare for his bar mitzvah. Not only did he sing his Torah portion so beautifully, he spoke so meaningfully about thinking carefully before we speak. A bar or bat Mitzvah is so much more than confidently singing your portion in front of family and friends. I teach as part of my Jewish education and bar and bat Mitzvah preparation, that how we treat our fellow human beings is so crucial and important.
My student spoke about thinking before you speak when interacting with everybody because words have so much power and they can be used for good or for bad. When you praise someone, you have the power to improve their mood and spirits and it could be something so simple as “hey mom you look great in that outfit today!” Or saying to your sibling “I really appreciate that you gave of your time to help me with my homework”. My bar mitzvah student tries regularly to express appreciation and to give thanks to his family and also is generous with compliments. And we know the reverse is true – that our words can also hurt people. We know this because we have been hurt by other people’s words. Sometimes what we say to someone can stay with them for days, weeks, months and even years and at the time we don’t think it’s not a big deal. But we truly don’t know the impact of our words. Which is why the saying “think before you speak” is wise. And why I teach my online students to be generous with kind comments to friends and family.
Each and every day, we find ourselves with multiple opportunities to spread kindness and goodness in the world. We come into contact with family, friends and strangers. Be kind, complimentary, charming with everyone you meet. Speak nicely to people and you’ll see the power of making others feel amazing and making yourself feel so fulfilled.