Smile: It's a key Jewish value

Dear Parents and Children,
Customer service is always in the news.
Anyone who runs a business or goes to a restaurant, store or anywhere for that matter, is concerned with the level of customer service in that place. When people ignore others or are downright rude, we are upset and complain about the “state of the world.”
An important Jewish value is “Sayver Panim Yafot — a pleasant demeanor.” “Sayver” means brighten, “panim” means face, and “yafot” means lovely, so “Sayver Panim Yafot” translates to “put on a happy face!”
This is a wonderful value to teach our children and to remind ourselves. It does not mean that we must always be happy or that we should deny our feelings, but when we greet the world with a smile, we do get smiles in return. The ancient rabbis knew back then what the doctors are telling us today — when we put on a smile outside, we often begin to feel better inside.
“Receive every person in a cheerful manner … be the first to extend greetings to every human being.” (Pirke Avot) Customer service has been taught by the rabbis for generations — let’s remember to practice it.
This is an easy value to practice with your children. Make sure you have a mirror handy and together, make faces.
Put the emotion with the face — make a sad face, make a happy face, make an angry face. Next put words to the “face” — smile and say “Go to your room for two hours.” How does that look?
Then remind everyone to start each day with a happy face — a game will soon turn into a habit and then into an attitude. Finally, each week when you bless your children talk about God’s face: May God bless you and protect you. May God make God’s face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God lift God’s face toward you and grant you peace.
It is also important that we not save our “smiling face” just for the outside. Remember to smile at your families and those closest to you!!
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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