One sign of a biblioholic is the “need” to buy books — it is an addiction. Therefore, I buy many more books than I can read and often come back to books that have been on the shelf for a while.
This weekend, I read Celebrating Life: Finding Happiness in Unexpected Places by Jonathan Sacks — a little book that worked well on an airplane. There is so much to share but this story stuck out — Sacks tell of a story about the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Someone had written to the Rebbe in a state of deep depression. The letter went something like this. “I would like the Rebbe’s help. I wake up each day sad and apprehensive. I can’t concentrate. I find it hard to pray. I keep the commandments, but I find no spiritual satisfaction. I go to the synagogue but I feel alone. I begin to wonder what life is about. I need help.” The Rebbe wrote a brilliant reply that did not use a single word. All he did was this: He circled the first word of every sentence and sent the letter back. The disciple understood. The Rebbe had answered his question and set him on the path to recovery.
The ringed word was “I.”
Thinking about this wise reply will make you stop and think each time you start a sentence. What does the word “I” tell us about the conversation we are having? How are the listeners responding to our words? We learn more about others by what they say but most about how they listen to us! Lately, we are being bombarded by politicians saying so many different things. We try to focus on the words but often tone and body language takes over. The next time you listen or read something, try the Rebbe’s technique. How often does the person say “I”? What does that tell you about the person? What is your response? It is an interesting experiment.
However, don’t stop with listening to others — the first person we can change is ourselves. Before I can change others, I must work on myself!
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.