Parshat Metzora 

The sages were eloquent on the subject of lashon hara, evil speech, the sin they took to be the cause of tsara’at, the subject of this week’s parsha. But there is a metahalakhic principle: “From the negative you can infer the positive”. So, for example, from the seriousness of the prohibition against Chillul Hashem, desecrating God’s name, you can infer the importance of the opposite, Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying God’s name. So there must in principle be a concept of lashon hatov, good speech, and it must be more than a mere negation of its opposite. The way to avoid lashon hara is to practice silence, and indeed the sages were eloquent on the important of silence. Silence saves us from evil speech but in and of itself it achieves nothing positive. What then is lashon hatov? Lashon hatov – one of the most important tasks of a leader, a parent or a friend – is focused praise. The classic text on this is a Mishnah in the tractate of Avot, “The Ethics of the Fathers”: Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai had five (preeminent) disciples, namely Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, Rabbi Joshua ben Chananya,

April 5, 2014 5 Nissan, 5774

Rabbi Sacks on Parshat Metzora
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Rabbi Yose the Priest, Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel, and Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh. He used to recount their praise: Eliezer ben Hyrcanus: a plastered well that never loses a drop. Joshua ben Chananya: happy the one who gave him birth. Yose the Priest: a pious man. Shimon ben Netanel: a man who fears sin. Elazar ben Arakh: an ever-flowing spring. (Avot 2: 10-11) The Mishnah is doing more than telling us that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai had disciples. Every rabbi had disciples. The imperative, “Raise up many disciples” is one of the oldest rabbinic teachings on record. What the Mishna is telling us is how to create disciples. It is easy to have students who are uncritical devotees but never become creative intellects in their own right. It is not difficult to create followers. It is far harder to create leaders. Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai was a great teacher because five of his students became giants in their own right. The Mishnah is telling us how he did it. He did it by focused praise. He showed each of his pupils where their particular strength lay. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, the “plastered well that never loses a drop,” was gifted with a superb memory – an important gift in an age in which manuscripts were rare and the Oral Law was not yet committed to writing. Shimon ben Netanel, the “man who fears sin,” may not have had the intellectual brilliance of the others but his reverential nature was a reminder to others that they were not mere scholars but also holy men engaged in a sacred task. Elazar ben Arakh, the “ever-flowing spring,” had a creative mind constantly giving rise to new interpretations of ancient texts. I discovered the transformative power of focused praise from one of the more remarkable people I ever met, the late Lena Rustin. Lena was a speech therapist, specializing in helping stammering children. I came to know her through a television documentary I was making for the BBC about the state of the family in Britain. Lena believed that the young stammerers she was treating – they were, on average, around five years old – had to be understood in the context of their families. Families tend to develop an equilibrium. If a child stammers, everyone in the family adjusts to it. Therefore if the child is to lose its stammer, all the relationships within the family will have to be renegotiated. Not only must the child change. So must everyone else. By and large, we tend to resist change. We settle into patterns of behavior until they become comfortable like a well-worn armchair or a comfortable pair of shoes. How do you create an atmosphere within a family that


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encourages change and makes it unthreatening? The answer Lena discovered was praise. She told the families with which she was working that every day they must catch each member of the family doing something right, and say so, specifically, positively and thankfully. She did not go into deep explanations, but watching her at work I began to realize what she was doing. She was creating, within each home, an atmosphere of mutual regard and continuous positive reinforcement. She wanted the parents to shape an environment of self-respect and self-confidence, not just for the stammering child but for every member of the family, so that the entire atmosphere of the home was one in which people felt safe to change and help others to do so. I suddenly realized that she had discovered a solution not just for stammering but for group dynamics as a whole. My intuition was soon confirmed in a surprising way. There had been tensions among the television crew with which I had been working. Various things had gone wrong and there was an atmosphere of mutual recrimination. After filming a session of Lena Rustin teaching parents how to give and receive praise, the crew started praising one another. Instantly the atmosphere was transformed. The tension dissolved, and filming became fun again. Praise gives people the confidence to let go of the negative aspects of their character and reach their full potential. There is in praise a deep spiritual message. We think religion is about faith in God. What I had not fully understood before was that faith in God should lead us to have faith in people, for God’s image is in each of us, and we have to learn how to discern it. I then understood that the repeated phrase in Genesis 1, “And God saw that it was good,” was there to teach us to see the good in people and events, and by so doing, help to strengthen it. I also understood why God briefly punished Moses by turning his hand leprous – as mentioned in the last Covenant and Conversation – because he had said about the Israelites, “They will not believe in me.” Moses was being taught a fundamental lesson of leadership: It does not matter whether they believe in you. What matters is that you believe in them. It was from another wise woman that I learned another important lesson about praise. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, argues that it makes a decisive difference whether we believe that our abilities are innate and determined once and for all (the “fixed” mindset), or that talent is something we achieve through time by effort, practice and persistence (the “growth” mindset). The former tend to be risk-averse, afraid that if they fail this will show that they are not as good as they were thought to be. The latter embrace risk because they take failure as a learning experience from which we grow. It follows that there is good praise and bad praise. Parents and teachers should not praise children in absolute terms: “You are gifted, brilliant, a star.” They should praise effort: “You tried hard, you gave of your best.” They should

Shaabbat Announcements Parshat Metzora 5774
encourage a growth mindset, not a fixed one. Perhaps this explains a sad aftermath in the life of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai’s two most gifted pupils. The Mishnah immediately following the one quoted above states: He [Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai] used to say: If all the sages of Israel were in one scale of a balance and Eliezer ben Hyrcanus in the other, he would outweigh them all. However, Abba Saul said in his name: If all the sages of Israel, including Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, were in one scale of a balance, and Elazar ben Arakh in the other, he would outweigh them all. (Avot 2: 12) Tragically Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was eventually excommunicated by his colleagues for failing to accept the majority view on a matter of Jewish law. As for Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh, he became separated from his colleagues. When they went to the academy at Yavneh, he went to Emmaus, a pleasant place to live but lacking in other Torah scholars. Eventually he forgot his learning and became a pale shadow of his former self. It may be that praising his students for their innate abilities rather than their effort, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai inadvertently encouraged the two most talented of them to develop a fixed mindset rather than engage with colleagues and stay open to intellectual growth. Praise and how we administer it is a fundamental element in leadership of any kind. Recognizing the good in people and saying so, we help bring people’s potential to fruition. Praising their efforts rather than their innate gifts helps encourage growth, about which Hillel used to say: “He who does not increase his knowledge, loses it” (Avot 1: 13). The right kind of praise changes lives. That is the power of lashon hatov. Bad speech diminishes us; good speech can lift us to great heights. Or as W. H. Auden said in one of his beautiful poems: “In the prison of his days. Teach the free man how to praise.”

Great Neck Synagogue Shabbat Activities Program 26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck , NY 11023 Dale Polakoff, Rabbi Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Wolf ,z”l, Rabbi Emeritus Zeev Kron, Cantor Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus Rabbi Sholom Jensen, Youth Director Zehava & Dr. Michael Atlas, Youth Directors Mark Twersky, Executive Director Rabbi Avraham Bronstein, Program Director Dr. Scott Danoff, President Harold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board Dena Block, Yoetzet Halacha 516-320-9818

PREPARING FOR PASSOVER  Pesach Hagadah & Halacha Class   Tuesday night April 1st, 8:00 pm with  Rabbi Lichter.    Pesach Kasher‐in on Thursday night  April 3rd, from 7:30‐10 pm  All items must be clean and not been  used for 24 hours. Silverware and  pots, (only with metal pieces and no  parts glued together or overlaid with  plastic) and other metal utensils may  be brought to be kashered for          Passover use.  

TWO WAYS TO GET A MITZVAH THIS PASSOVER GNS -Passover Food Chesed Collection 2014 : Got Matzah?? Please drop off Passover canned & boxed food items to donate to Needy Families!! Please donate Passover Packaged Food by dropping it off at the Lunzer Home, 91 Bayview Ave Drop off Sun.- Fri.: till April 10 and at the Atlas home, 9 Brook Lane Sun-Fri: till April 10 You can also drop matzah off at the shul. Please ring bell so it can be brought into the house. Please leave all food in shopping or garbage bags at the garage door . Please Do Not bring items in Glass containers. Thank you for being a part of this special Mitzvah!   Chometz Chesed Collection 2014 : Don’t throw out your Chometz! Please donate your Chometz now!!! Please drop off your Chometz in the box in the garage at Rabbi/Rebbetzin Lichter’s home at 76 Berkshire Road. Their garage is located on Margo Street. You can drop off every day – all day- in their garage through April 10

HASHKAMA MINYAN Kiddush is sponsored by Amy & Martin Griffel in honor of her father Mel Fox’s return to the Minyan after being in Florida for the winter. GREAT NECK SYNAGOGUE PRESENTS SUNDAY MORNING SUNRISE Sunday, Apr., 6 all middle school boys grades 6-8. Shacharit: 8:30am—breakfast/Class 9:10-10:00 am. Rabbi Daniel Schwechter. Dates: 4/27, 5/4, 5/18, 6/1, 6/8. NISSAN ROSH CHODESH CHALLAH BAKE This Chag Ha'Aviv is the time when we clean out the old in a "spring cleaning," and make room for the new. Bring your left over flour to make challah. We will be making flat breads commemorating our ancestors harried plight from Egypt in the home of Dahlia AbrahamKlein, on Tuesday April 1st 10am. For more info or to RSVP, please email: BURNING CHOMETZ Volunteers needed to assist at chometz burning Monday April 14 , 9-11 AM. to be held at the park on Steamboat Rd.If you can help please call Mitchell Siegel at 516 835 8832 or text to that number. SPRING BLOOD DRIVE. The Men’s Club Spring Blood Drive is dedicated to a Refuah Shleimah for Rabbi Dale Polakoff. All donors and volunteers will be inscribed in a special message to Rabbi Polakoff. The drive will be held on Sunday, April 27, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the GNS Gym. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointment holders will get expedited treatment. Please book appointments via the website (address circulated in shul emails), by email to or by phone 212-558-3035. All donors and volunteers will also receive a special GNS-themed gift! See flyer for more details. HAT SALE Bella's Hats is holding a sale and will be donating a portion of the proceeds to GNS. This special sale event will be held on Thur., Apr., 3, 2014. Bella's Hats collection of hats, fascinators, berets, doilies and more will be available at the Lichter residence, 76 Berkshire Rd, from 10AM - 2PM and from 8-10PM. Do your Pre-Pesach hat shopping and TOMCHAI SHABBOS VOLUNTEERS NEEDED This Sunday April 6,2014 is the annual Passover delivery date for TOMCHAI SHABBOS. With over 420 deliveries, drivers and helpers are needed Please volunteer. The address is 3323 Union St, Flushing, NY 11354. The deliveries will take place between 9am and 12pm. For information please call 7186700700. Thank you. SAVE THE DATE The annual North Shore Mikvah Association fundraising shiur for women will take place at the home of Marla and Micah Lemonik - 9 Myrtle Drive - On Tuesday May 13th at 7:30. The shiur will be given by Rebbetzin Abby Lerner and is entitled, They Said What? The Surprising Rabbinic Attitudes Towards Intimacy. Light refreshments will be served and orchids from "Blooming Flowers" will be for sale with proceeds to benefit the mikvah. Suggested Donation $36.00, Sponsorships - $100, Gold Sponsor - $180.00 For more information - please email FROM THE GN EIRUV ASSOCIATION We thank those of who have participated in our yearly fundraising effort on behalf of our community Eiruv. If you have joined with those who have contributed we ask for your help now. Please send your contributions (Suggested amount $180) ASAP. Your fully tax deductible contributions can be made on line at or by sending your check to: GN Eiruv Association, 15 Cuttermill Road, Box 182, Great Neck, NY 11021. JERUSALEM MARATHON Alex Hollander, Amalia Kaufman, Daniel Rabizadeh and Maxine Wiesenfeld would like to thank the entire GNS for their generous donations to Shalva Israel to help sponsor The NSHAHS Jerusalem Marathon Team. With your help the school raised over $52,000.00 as a donation for the Shalva Organization.

Mazal Tov to Sharon & Mark Twersky on the birth of a grandson born to their children Jennifer & Daniel Twersky. Mazal Tov to Paul Marcus who has published his newest book, They Shall Beat Their Swords Into Plowshares. Military Strategy, Psychoanalysis and The Art of Living (Marquette University Press). Mazal Tov to Gilbert Aronowitz on the birth of twin great-grandsons born to his grandchildren Naomi & Josh Aronowitz. Mazal Tov to Sandy & Mark Gold on the birth of their granddaughter born to their children Nicki & Natan Shoshani.
PASS IT FORWARD Has experienced an unexpected increase in demand for Pesach meals. We will be purchasing all of the food to be distributed, which includes 2 Seder meals, a Seder plate and Pesach essentials for each family. Monetary contributions would be appreciated. Please make checks payable to GNS with a notation that it is for Pass it Forward. Any questions, contact Cindy Hodkin at SAVE THE NEW DATE: The NSHA Annual Journal Dinner celebrating its 59th year will take place on Monday evening, May 19th at Citi Field honoring Stephanie & Ruvane Vilinsky, Hannah K. Flamenbaum & Charles W. Segal and Sassoun Sassouni. Those wishing to place an ad, make a reservation or serve on the dinner committee, please contact Arnie Flatow at or call the Business Office at 487-868 ext 2. DRIVERS NEEDED FOR TOMCHEI SHABBOS For many years members of GNS have been responsible for Route 24 of Tomchei Shabbos Queens-one of the most popular Tomchei Shabbos routes. Participation entails delivering prepared boxes of food to four apartments in Forest Hills. The packages are picked up from the Tomchei warehouse in Kew Gardens at any time after 5 PM Wednesday evenings. The entire process takes LESS than two hours to complete and be back in GN. We’d like another 3-4 individuals to join us in supporting this very important Chesed Project. Groups or families are welcome to participate. For more info, please contact Mitchell Siegel Saturday, 5 Nissan Lorraine Domnitch for Sidney Spiesel Jaques Fouladi for Azam Fouladi Mark Gersten for Richard B. Gersten Mindy Hercman for Bernard M. Grosser Jeffrey Kaufman for Martin Kaufman Yonni Mrejen for Jacob Mrejen Roselin Wagner for Miriam Seider Howard Wolf for Julius Wolf Michele Wolf for Ruth Berman Sunday, 6 Nissan Alina Dynkin for Reuven Chernyavsky Pearl Ginsburg for David Ginsburg Donald Heisler for Rae Heisler Gedale Horowitz for Florence Horowitz Samuel Levitt for Benjamin Levitt Amir Mardkha for Nasrollah Mardkha Monday, 7 Nissan Joyce Swartz for Seymour Zeff Tuesday, 8 Nissan Joan Braun for Rose Shwartz Ronald Braun for Renee Braun Mark J. Bunim for Gladys Bunim Malka Gad for Tvuz Hakimi Amy Goldberg-Reiss for Joseph Goldberg Benjamin Greszes for Moises Greszes Nechama Liss-Levinson for Morris Liss Wednesday, 9 Nissan Elie Cohen for Michael Cohen Jack Cohen for Bessie Poretsky Samuel Levitt for Sadie Lederman Thursday, 10 Nissan Sheila Bachman for Mildred Lewit Iraj Kashani for Yousef Kashani Bracha Kron for Sara bat Naftali Menachem Friday, 11 Nissan Paul Brody for Harvey Brody Laura Danoff for Ernest Herman Lev Dynkin for Meishe Ber Shifman Semyon Dynkin for Meishe Ber Shifman Sharon Goldwyn for Belle Goldwyn Phyllis Jadidian for Diana Shapiro Steven Zuckerman for Evelyn Zuckerman