Today: The key to successful relationships.
Very much in love, Susan and Josh a couple in their twenties are about to marry and have come to the preeminent Rabbi Maurice Rosen for advice. At 92 years of age, the Rabbi is semi-retired but over the years this wise man has advised U.S. Presidents and other world leaders.
Sitting in his expansive study, a large oak paneled room bigger than many a small house, Susan and Josh are in awe as they look at him and they stare at the numerous books on his shelves and at his many awards, diplomas and pictures.
“Rabbi,” said Susan taking a deep breath as she mustered the courage to ask her question. “Josh and I are about to be married and we’re just starting out in our careers. We would like to ask you, ‘What is the key to successful relationships?’ “
After carefully considering her question, the Rabbi’s eyes narrowed and his lips tightened, as he replied, “I’ll answer your question with a story.
“Many years ago when I was about 15, I didn’t have much self-confidence. One night in front of a group of others I tried to reassure myself by impressing them with my knowledgeable.
“There were about 20 people gathered around as I explained Jewish mysticism over the ages and it was all I could do to find the confidence to speak to that many people at one time. But everyone was listening and seemed fascinated by what I told them.”
“Just then,” said the Rabbi as he arose suddenly caught up in that long ago event, “A young man my age who had been standing in back of me and listening started to laugh. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said. But he attacked just one minor point I had made.
“I had so little self-confidence then,” continued the Rabbi, “that I got sick to my stomach. Gasping for air, I tried to speak but all I could say was, ‘you’re wrong’ as I walked away embarrassed.
“A 60-year-old woman in the back of the room rolled her eyes and with a sparkle in her voice said ‘Come with me,’ and motioned me to follow her into another room. I can still see her in my mind’s eye with her short gray hair, gold earrings and silver rimmed round glasses.
“Why do you think he did that to you,” she asked. “I don’t know,” I replied, as I hung my head and fought back tears. “He did it because he has no self-confidence,” she said. “He was attempting to build himself up at your expense. But he doesn’t feel any better about himself for what he did and now the others think he’s a jerk for hurting you.
“If you would like to build your own self-confidence,” she said. “Go find him and shake his hand as you tell him, ‘I differ with you but reasonable people can disagree. I’d like to understand how you came to your opinions.’
“You’re not attacking him,” she added. “You’re showing him respect. And young man, that is the key to successful relationships, RESPECT. She then gave me a warm hug and left the room.
“After I calmed down I found him sitting alone and I approached him as she had said. It turned out that he didn’t know what he was talking about regarding Jewish mysticism but he had a wealth of knowledge about medicine which was his real passion. Because I listened and didn’t attack him, he became comfortable speaking with me.
“That night, he and I became friends and we are today as old men, more than 75 years later. And by the way, he is a retired doctor.
“When you offer respect,” said the Rabbi as he looked at the young couple with his piercing blue eyes, “You’re showing you really care for the well-being of that person.
“Think if like a rose,” added the Rabbi. “If it gets the warm gentle sunlight it needs, its petals can blossom into the brightest colors of the rainbow and the most heavenly scents you can imagine. Without that sunlight, the plant will wither and die.
“For all the days of your lives, please remember this,” stated Rabbi Rosen. “And it’s one of the most important things I can ever offer you. People need respect. It is as vital to them as the air they breathe, as vital to them as the gentle sunlight is to the rose.
“Yet that hunger is seldom fulfilled. Someone wise enough to recognize this and fulfill that need in others, whether it is for a spouse, for a child or for anyone else will capture many a heart and will be the envy of all for his or her many friendships.”
Success Tip of the Week:
Treat someone you have disdained, instead with respect and you may discover qualities in that person you never knew and a friendship that could last a lifetime.
Rabbi Rosen is fictitious. His story and its advice were inspired by events in my life and lessons in human nature I’ve learned over 64 years of experience.
In the next KazanToday:
An all-star athlete who sacrificed his career over a principle.