By Laura Seymour
Passover is filled with lots of traditions, however the main goal is for us to teach and learn the story. To be able to study and learn is a gift given to free people.
After we get through the preparation for Passover, the holiday gives us the time to be together so during the days of Passover, here is something for conversation.
Every family should have a copy of “Pirke Avot, Chapters of the Sages.” There are so many different ones out there and Amazon is happy to help you choose. Every version has the same mishnayot (sayings), but the commentary is different. So get your copy now and enjoy!
Since Passover is a major holiday for welcoming guests, here is a mishnah that will make you think about how to be welcoming:
Shammai says: Make your Torah (study) a fixed practice; say little and do much; and greet everyone with a pleasant countenance.
— Pirke Avot, 1:15
There is so much to think about and talk about in that little but powerful quote and how you can apply it. It is wonderfully amazing when an ancient text is “proven” by modern science. An article posted on Psyblog reported that psychological research has shown at least 10 hidden benefits of smiling (greet everyone…).
Here they are:
1. Get others to trust you.
2. Smile for leniency.
3. Recover from social slip-ups.
4. Because otherwise I’ll feel bad.
5. Laugh off the hurt.
6. Grin for insight
7. Smile for sex.
8. Hide what you really think.
9. Smile to make money.
10. Smile and (half) the world smiles with you.
Added Bonus: Smile for longevity!!
As you talk about the Mishnah from Pirke Avot, toss in these psychological insights on smiling. Do you think the sages understood all of these benefits? Do you agree with them? One of the challenges of learning Pirke Avot is that every idea leads to a deeper understanding of ourselves — definitely a psychological ancient book!
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.