פרשת ויחי is the parshah of brochos. In the brochoh given to Yehudah, Yaakov says, “חכלילי עינים מיין ולבן שנים מחלב.” The simple pshat is that Yehudah and his children would be blessed with an abundance of good things. However, Rabbi Yochonon, at the end of Kesubos, offers a lesson by changing one of the vowels in the text. The new reading is, “and to whiten his teeth, from milk.” Rabbi Yochonon is teaching us that to whiten one’s teeth to another, meaning to offer a warm smile, is better than giving him milk.
Rav Avigdor Miller זצ“ל says we should imagine a man standing on a street corner giving glasses of milk to all those who pass by. It is certainly praiseworthy for a man to give a glass of milk that provides such essential nourishment to each person he meets. Yet Rabbi Yochonon is telling us that he does less than one who smiles at his fellow man! Rabbi Miller points out that many people today are lonely and sad and in need of a warm smile. He points out that it is possible to give to a less fortunate person without writing a check; a smile can make a tremendous difference in a person’s day.
I shared this thought with the students this week and I’ve shared it in different contexts many times before. It is so important to show our children our smiles so they will learn that a smile is contagious and it is possible to feel that simchas hachaim every day. We should all strive that simchas hachaim should be a pervasive feeling in our homes. Let’s teach our children that a smile is a gift we should always give to others.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School