There is so much bragging and over-promising today.
We are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., talking up our future fitness, financial and even spiritual achievements. Instagram is filled with pictures of the mansions people swear they will live in one day.
Even when we finally step away from social media, many of us are quick to commit to meeting with or helping our friends, but how often do we deliver?
This week’s Torah portion, Vayeira, gives us a master lesson in saying little, while doing much. Abraham is visited by three angels in his tent. He says:
Let some water be brought, please, and wash your feet, and recline beneath the tree. I will fetch a morsel of bread that you may nourish your heart (Genesis 18: 4-5).
Is that what he did? NO!
So Abraham hastened to the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Hurry! Three se’ahs of unsifted flour! Knead and make cakes!’ Then Abraham ran to the cattle, took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the youth who hurried to prepare it. He took cream and milk and the calf which he made, and placed (these) before them. (Genesis 18: 6-8).
Rabbi David Kimcha (the “Radak“), a thirteenth-century author of a popular commentary on the Tanakh, noted that this incident is recorded in the Torah so that we will learn an important ethical lesson. Abraham said he would bring a morsel of bread, then he rushed to bring the three angels an entire festive meal!
How will saying little and doing much bring us simcha (Jewish joy)?
Imagine how good all of your relationships would be if instead of empty promises and hollow boasts, you actually did what you said you were going to do. Going a step further, now imagine if you not only did what you said you were going to do, but OVER-delivered value to friends, colleagues, loved ones, family, your spouse, etc.
Sometimes we think that empty boasting and over-promising “only” affects those around us. But in actuality, it also hurts the person doing it. Every time you promise to do something and then renege, you chip away at your self-esteem by proving yourself to be a liar. You come to believe that you are unreliable and you will shortly begin breaking commitments to yourself, too.
All of us (especially me!) could use a lot less talking, especially on social media, and much more doing.
Shabbat Shalom! This Shabbat, try an experiment: speak modestly and sparingly, and then surprise people with more than they expected. I think you’ll enjoy the reaction you get…