Learning to Give Compliments from a Rabbi

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A New Book by Artscroll Publishers, “Yedidi – Rabbi Shmuel Berkovicz, whose warmth and caring inspired people to strive for greatness by Rabbi Yechiel Spero” is about a Congregation Rabbi that lead with love.

Recently, in the Weekly Mesorah Heritage Foundation’s Torah pamphlet called “AT THE ARTSCROLL SHABBOS TABLE – WEEKLY INSPIRATION AND INSIGHT ADAPTED FROM CLASSIC ARTSCROLL TITLES” Acharei Mos / פרשת אחרי מות / כייט ניסן תשפייב / 5782 / APRIL 30, 2022 / ISSUE #88 – it talks of his all compassing love for others.

Here is a quote I found particularly Helpful in the quest to make others feel good.

It Doesn’t Cost Money
Shlomo Hamelech / King Solomon teaches (Mishlei / Proverbs 25:11), “Tapuchei zahav be’maskiyos kasef davar davur al ofnav” Like golden apples carved on silver plates, so is a word spoken in its proper place.” Rabbi Berkovicz was the master of saying the right thing, at the right time, in the right place. He understood the power of a compliment and did not hold back. No one was too smart or too simple, too old or too young, too chashuv or too insignificant for a compliment from Reb Shmuel. As he always said, “Es kost nisht kein gelt. It doesn’t cost money to make someone feel good!”

The Prince’s Gift

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There was once a king. Getting older, he realized that one day he had to give over his kingdom to his successor, his son. After educating him in history, science, music, math and aspects of being a king he called in his son. ” My dear son , one day you will be king. As a king one must understand the needs of his people. Till now we gave you the best formal education. Now we want to send you out into the world to learn how to deal with all kinds of people. For one year you will travel from place to place with an assistant to go about your learning of how to deal with people. I just ask from you that you bring me a souvenir which – could be an object or a piece of information – as a momento of your voyage.”

The next day The Prince and his assistant set out to travel throughout the country. They met many people & discovered many places. Near the end of their voyage they realized soon they had to return the to the Palace and had still not found a souvenir to bring back to the king.

The prince said to his assistant “Let’s go to this County Fair and see if we can find something worthwhile to buy for the king.” They went to the fair and saw a merchant selling jewelry. The jewelry caught the prince’s eye. He said this is a great gift for the king. They asked Jeweler how much it cost. The Jeweler replied 18000 rubles. He was very interested and told his assistant quietly we have 20 thousand rubles. Let’s buy this jewelry for the king. His assistance replied “We can’t just buy jewelry without determining if it is authentic.” They asked around if there was an independent jeweler in the town.

They found that there was no Jeweler but someone mentioned that there was a very wise rabbi that’s could possibly help them. They asked where could they find him. People directed them to his house. They asked where they could find the rabbi – they had an important question for him. She said “the governor of this town does not like the Jews – so he finds false accusations to keep the rabbi in jail. The rabbi is now in jail on a false accusation.”

The prince and his assistant go to the jail hand speak with the Warden – ” we need to talk with this rabbi” they show that they are from the palace and the warden lets the rabbi out. They bring the rabbi to the jeweler. They ask him “Do you know anything about jewelry?” the Rabbi says a little bit. “Can you tell us if this jewelry is real?”

The rabbi took the jewelry and threw it on the floor. The jewels that appeared to be diamonds shattered into pieces. The rabbi said obviously these are not real diamonds otherwise they would not have broken.

The assistant said “Thank you so much. You saved us thousands of rubles.” The prince said “very good. send him back to jail.”

They were back to square one. They had to find a gift for the king. They found at the fair a beautiful White Arabian horse for sale. They asked the merchant the price of the horse. He replied 15000 rubles. The prince was excited to buy the horse. His assistant reason him and said we have to see if this is a worthwhile purchase. They did not find an expert in horses in the town. They decided to bring back the rabbi to validate the sale.

They brought back the rabbi. They asked “Does the rabbi know how to evaluate a horse?” He said “Not particularly, but it would make sense for someone to ride the horse before purchasing it.”

The prince told the merchant get on the horse and to ride it before him. The merchant hesitated but the prince was adamant. When he got up on the horse it was running wild, bucking up and down and standing up. He threw the merchant onto the fence. The merchant was badly bruised. The assistant was shaken that this could have happened to the king had they given the horse to the king.

The assistant thanked the rabbi very much. The prince said “okay. send him back to the prison.”

The prince was worried because he did not have a gift to take back to the king. He remembered that he could bring the king an astounding piece of information. He told this to the assistant. The assistant said “Let’s ask the rabbi. He is very wise. He can tell us astounding information.”

They went to the rabbi, asking him for information to bring back to the king. The rabbi responded – “I have astounding information but I can only tell it to the prince alone.” The assistant was reluctant, but the prince assured him that he could trust the old rabbi to stay alone with him.

Alone, the rabbi approached the prince and whispered in his ear. “Do not be shocked. The astounding information I have to tell you is that ‘you are not the actual son of the king.'” The prince was shaken. I didn’t know how to take this information.

The assistant asked him what did the rabbi tell you? The prince could not reveal it to him. He was in a rush to get back to the Palace. At the palace they made a grand reception for the return of the prince. After the festivities – the king had a private conversation with the prince. He asked him what is the souvenir you brought me? The prince was still shaking. He said “I met a rabbi and he told me that I I’m not your real son.”

The King was astounded. The prince demanded that the king tell him the truth. The King admitted that he was not his real son but an adopted son. the king didn’t know how this information leaked out. No one knew is this Secret.

They called the Rabbi and the King asked – “How is it that you knew that my son was not my real son?” The Rabbi replied “When your son called me for help to select a gift for you – the first time I saved him thousands of Rubles – afterwards he threw me back in prison. The second time I saved him from possibly causing the King to be thrown off a wild horse – afterwards he threw me back in prison. A person who has Royal blood has feelings of Gratitude towards others. He should have freed me from prison out of gratitude. The fact he did not,  I determined he was not your real son.”

Gratitude is a sign of nobility. Gratitude to family. Gratitude to others. Gratitude to G-d.

– A Story from the Riznitzer Rebbe