There are times we can all think of when we misjudged a person, a group of people, or gave an inaccurate assessment related to a preconceived notion. And then there are times, few and far between, when we are happy to have been wrong. These mistakes may have been benign or dramatic. There may have been times when you misjudged your spouse, child or friend, but keeping an open mind, and learning from our own mistakes or misconceptions, can be growing experiences. The following very positive examples illustrate these ideas, and may help you see life in a slightly different and more positive light:
During Chol Hamoed Sukkot, we took our kids and grandkids to a family resort in the Poconos—nothing fancy, but we were together. My brother’s family joined us, and brought along a sukkah—“Have sukkah, will travel” is a family motto we live by. There were many activities for families to enjoy, such as volleyball, kickball, shuffleboard, an indoor swimming pool and miniature golf. The arcade, facilities and activity schedule kept our widely age-ranged family entertained from morning until bedtime. Our family took top prize in a riotous game of “Minute to Win It” led by the activities director, who had some difficulty with the name we gave our team —“Ibbergeblibbin”—the Yiddish word for leftovers, and simply called us “The Leftovers,” which was almost as funny as when he tried to say Ibbergeblibbin (maybe you had to be there to appreciate it).
It was mostly cold and rainy, but the inclement weather did nothing to dampen our spirits because we were so busy having fun all day. One of the activities was an indoor kickball competition, in which my grandson was excited to participate. While waiting for all the athletes to assemble, a family of six entered to gym. All the girls in this family were wearing baggy sweatpants and sweatshirts. We overheard the mother speaking to her children, whose names were Kathleen, Mary, Maggie and Stacy. The entire family was blonde with sparkling blue eyes. My daughter was making small talk with the mother, who leaned in and asked, “Your skirt is Kosher Casual, right?” Needless to say, my daughter was a bit surprised, but told the woman that she knew that Kosher Casual had a similar skirt, but it was in fact made by another manufacturer. The woman then complimented my daughter’s long-sleeved T-shirt and inquired about where it was made and purchased. My daughter shared the information with the woman, and then asked, “How do you know about Kosher Casual? I didn’t know it was so well-known outside the Jewish community.” The woman said, “We are religious Catholics and we always wear modest skirts and tops. Since the weather was so cold and nasty, my husband said it would be alright if we wore baggy sweats. I’m really excited to have met you because I love finding out about clothing that covers the knees, elbows and collar bone.” Then she turned to her kids and said, “Kiki Riki, girls —don’t forget Kiki Riki. We‘ll buy some of those tops as soon as we get home.”
A few years ago, I had an appliance that was still within warranty which was in need of repair. GE sent over a repairman who a Chasid from Rockland County. He told me that his appliance repair business was an authorized GE repair company which was contracted to fix my fridge. The man was well-spoken, neatly dressed in his black and white “levush,” shaven head and long payos, and got right down to work on the fridge soon after he arrived. He told me that recently he was sent on a repair job to an apartment on the block of Yeshiva University. He was quite delighted to share that he noticed the “bachurim” at the yeshiva were “frum” guys, and that he always thought that the boys who attended YU were not religious at all. He said he really didn’t know why he had that impression, and admitted that he never really gave YU any thought. He was so happy to see the beautiful sight of young men learning Torah, and was hoping to spend time with some of the guys he met who had invited him to come and visit in the future.
“Ayin tov” literally means a “good eye.” Practically speaking, having an ayin tov means seeing the world with an upbeat outlook and having positive impressions of people, places and things. These outlooks and impressions become our mirror to the world around us, and let people know that we are thinking good thoughts and have a generous heart. Drawing people closer to us using our ayin tov with open-mindedness can transform and enrich relationships. It also makes us feel younger, bringing us back to a time when we saw the world in a simpler, more pure light. Being invigorated in this way puts the spring back in our step, and infuses our environment with positivity. May we all see each other with an ayin tov and an open heart.
Sariva Sklar is a certified family coach in Teaneck, New Jersey. Sariva helps parents, children, couples and individuals reach their personal goals in a relaxed setting, and provides social skills training for both children and adults. Sariva may be reached in her office (201-836-4227).
By Sariva Sklar, CFC