On false smiles

Friday, 17 November, 2023 - 3:36 am

On the Shabbat Sheva Brachot (the Shabbat after a couple gets married), it is customary to say Divrei Torah (words of Torah), and the speakers usually add a useful tip for the young couple.

On the Shabbat Sheva Brachot of my daughter and son-in-law, which took place a month ago, the groom’s uncle, Rabbi Shuli Lapidot, said wonderful things, and at the end of his speech gave the couple a tip that all the listeners adopted on the spot – even those who have been married for several decades.

This is what he said: “Dear groom, I heard from chassidim in a hitva’adut a good piece of advice for a happy life: Every time you come home, make sure to plaster a smile on your face a moment before entering. Come into your home with a smile. This may sound easy for a newlywed who has not yet started his life, but for he who has been living in Hashem’s world somewhat longer than that, it doesn’t sound simple and easy. Often a person has a very challenging and hard day; there are days in life that are not easy, but it is about those days specifically that this chassid was speaking. Before you come in, put a smile on your face and then enter.”

Rabbi Shuli continued, bringing up the question that everyone was thinking of: “One of the participants in that hitva’adut asked the speaker: ‘But how? We are truthful people, or at least we strive to be real and true, and on a day when you are sad and feel heavy, how can you put on an act and smile?’”

And here, Rabbi Shuli said an immortal sentence, in his sweet Argentinian accent: “Better a false smile that true sadness.”

A week after the wedding of my daughter and son-in-law, Rabbi Shuli’s nephew, Rabbi Shuli himself married off a son. Perhaps he was planning to give the same tip to his son, but, to our great sorrow, he was not present at the Shabbat Sheva Brachot of his son, for on Friday night on his way to shul he was severely injured in an accident, and this week he passed away. Rabbi Shalom Matityahu ben Menachem Daniel and Toybe, I met you once and heard one saying from you; one meeting and one life-changing saying that I have taken on and am already passing on to others in your name. Those who met you a lot and received much from you have probably been enriched many times more.

Dear friends, we are all going through difficult and challenging days, days when the smile, if it appears, is false, but remember what Rabbi Shuli said: “Better a false smile than true sadness.”

Shabbat Shalom and Besorot Tovot (good tidings)!

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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