Rabbi Chanina the son of DosaPirkei Avot 3:9
I used to belong to a Synagogue where no one seemed to smile or nod at one another in the hallways. What sense of community was that, I wondered? Smiling at another human being acknowledges their existence, establishes a connection and makes the World a better place. Such acts of loving kindness play an important role in Judaism since early rabbinic times.
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) is a tractate of the Mishna that details the Torah’s views on ethics and interpersonal relationships. “The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and deeds of loving-kindness,” said Shimon the Righteous (313 BCE) in Pirkei Avot 1:2. In 1:15, Shammai (1st century BCE sage) said “Receive [greet] every person with a pleasant countenance.” Rabbi Abraham Grodzinski (1883-1944) allegedly spent hours practicing his smile in front of a mirror and worked for two years on greeting others pleasantly, even during the darkest days of the Holocaust. Interestingly, practicing acts of loving kindness is distinct from, and godlier than charity (giving to the poor.)
Smiling is a simple but effective way to “heal the World” (tikkun olam in hebrew.)