PARSHAT PINCHAS: HOW DO I MAKE OTHERS FEEL?
By Sherrie B. Miller
“Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace.” (shalom) (Bamidbar25:12)
Rabbeinu Tovia B’Psikta Zutra wrote: so great is the blessing of Shalom received
by Pinchas from Hashem, that one ought to follow suit and feel compelled to greet
one another with Shalom, Shacharit and Maariv. The implication is that we should
try to initiate the greeting of Shalom as often as possible.
This “tip” may seem simple,
but it has embedded within it a very profound message.
There is a Chassidic story related about Rav Yaakov Yosef, the Baal HaToldot, who
warmly greeted a young new student who was studying in the Beit Midrash. The student
who was engrossed in his thoughts replied curtly to the Rav who attempted to engage
him in conversation in order to get acquainted. Exceedingly irritated the pre-occupied
student burst out abruptly and asked the Rav what difference it made to the Rav
to know who he was and where he came from.
The Rav explained: it is an accepted Jewish custom that when a new person comes
to town, one must greet him with Shalom and ask his name, his place of origin and
what he does. The Rav continued: when we say Shalom to someone, we make peace with
that individual. You connect to them by learning a bit about them. Two Jews that
know a bit about one another will be inclined to help each other and often times
grow to love each other, which in turn makes them each joyous for the other’s success.
It’s a beginning.
As below, so too above: when Jews are joyous below it is reflected above in the
joy of Hashem which yields added bracha and joy not only to the two Jews who invested
a few minutes to get acquainted, but the entire Land and its inhabitants reap the
benefits as well. “Remember,” said the Rav to the student, “how much nachas Hashem
receives from a “shalom aleichem” between two Jews, when they show each other the
respect and concern and especially are “makdimim,” initiating this relationship!
And remember! Shalom is one of Hashem’s names-this is one of the ways that He is
To apply this anecdote to the world of dating, we can ask ourselves: “how much time
to do I spend trying to know my date vs. what amount of the time am I invested in
promoting myself?” “How much time am self-absorbed and I am investing in trying
to figure out WHY I should date this person again, instead of WHY NOT? I have unfortunately
counseled too many people who now look back of a number of the dates that they went
on and regret not having pursued it further. They got caught up in the Madison Ave.
advertising world of: why settle? Wait for tomorrow’s NEW & IMPROVED product.
Surely, we arrive with a list of questions that are reminiscent of the pressure
and anxiety felt at a job interview.
But what if we went on a date with a natural curiosity for discovering another treasure
of Hashem’s handiwork? What if I put aside the usual list of questions pertaining
to education, career choice, number of kids I plan on, and rather got to find out
what makes this person tick, what makes them want to wake up in the morning? What
are they passionate about?
To be present when talking to someone about his or her passion is to watch a person
radiate enthusiasm and to shine! I guarantee that they will be seen in a totally
different light as a result.
In their book First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You, Demarais
and White discuss 4 ways of focusing on a date.
1. How you feel about yourself
2. How you feel about the other person
3. How the other person feels about you
4. How the other person feels about himself or herself
I put #4 in bold letters because it is probably the factor leased paid attention
to and yet the most critical in developing a caring relationship.
Prior to a first date, instead of asking the usual mundane and technical stats of
a person, try to reveal an accomplishment or a hobby of that person in order to
show your (sincere) admiration and esteem for their accomplishment or talent. This
highlights your ability to give and put someone else’s needs before your own, a
pre-requisite to a loving and lasting relationship.
People naturally enjoy being around people who make them feel good and especially
people who make them feel good about themselves. You may be wondering, “what’s in
it for me?” “Paradoxically,” say Damarais and White, the shortest route to getting
what you want is to give to others first.” This lays the groundwork for the “boomerang”
effect embodied in Chazal’s adage: “As with water, we see our reflection when gazing
at it, so too does a heart reflect back what is in the other’s heart!” (Mishlei)
Just as Rav Yaakov Yosef emphasized the importance of initiating the Shalom by learning
about everyone we meet, how much more so when seeking our soul mate?
Invest the time to dig beneath the surface; focus on your date and most often you
will leave with a sense of wonderment!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.