A Single Light is Good For 100 People As Well As One Person 

The Talmud says "a small coin in a large jar makes a giant noise. "One can take this to mean that when someone says something nice, it could get noticed in a fine manner. It could mean if you say or do something evil or mean, it will be noticed. It could mean even if you do a minimum of something, it could mean a lot to someone else.

The Talmud also says "a single light answers as well for one hundred men as for one man." Often, we consider doing a good deed for only one person involved and that is a great idea. Other time, when we accomplish something, it could affect and impress many people.

One day about twenty years ago, I did something that probably affected many people who never thought to go out and learn to do ballroom dancing. Mind you, this was way before Dancing With The Stars became a popular television program. I applied for a job writing a ballroom dance column mainly to be read by seniors who, of course, were in their senior years. I got the position and wrote these articles for seventeen years until the format of the magazine ( a real printed one, not an online one then) changed and I no longer wanted to put my words down in the new style of that magazine. In my column which I called My Golden Seniors, I appealed to everyone out there who had desire to learn to dance and thought themselves too old; to try it. I advise them they could find a group class whereby they took with about twenty other persons and learned to dance by mixing partners and learning all together. This was the most inexpensive way to start their dancing hobby. Later on, I advised them they could if they were able to afford it, experience a private lesson between their partner and their professional coach.

The Talmud also says that "happy is the pupil whose teacher approves his words." In this case, the dance student gets inspired and motivated when he receives some needed praise to make him or her want to continue. There is a program on where this heavy, mouthy and mean so called child’s dance teacher admonished the children in such a harsh manner, that they cry and are upset. Any mother who lets her child be battered verbally by a so called teacher of that caliber is surely not acting like a responsible parent.

Even as an adult of forty something, when my husband and I started our dancing hobby in 1977, I would never have continued on to reach this point if my first coach Laurence E. Miller had hollered at us or talked down to us or even if he had smirked at us. We would have been out of there in ten minutes of the first lesson which was a private one. It is because of his kind quality of teaching and his constant encouragement, that we came so far and that I have been writing encouraging dance articles for over twenty-two years. We continued to take private lessons all the thirty some years of our dancing careers and never once did any teacher talk to us in that nasty manner, as this lady does to these little girls. Parents are misinformed, if they think this kind of teaching is necessary to get their daughters’ to learn and to love this idea of dance whether it be ballroom dance or hip hop or ballet or whatever dance they are involved in.

The word teacher means just that. William Arthur Ward said "The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires and the mediocre teacher only tells. "This also can apply to other people in other professions. There are doctors who are so brief with you in the office visit that they tell you "cannot answer that question, no time." While he was saying he could not, he could have. I told a doctor that once and he looked at me like "what are you saying?" Yes I told him the question could have been answered and finished in the time he said he could not. Could not is not always a good phrase, could and would are better possibilities in learning to dance, in talking to a doctor and most of all in everything we desire to do especially later in life. People live longer now and can accomplish things even in their eighties and nineties. They are looked on with admiration that they survived this long and more so, that they can still advance and learn and be productive.

Another Talmud saying (I am full of them today because they are so appropriate in many instances) is that "To be patient is better than to have much wealth." Of course, many would rather have wealth and wealth can make them more patient too. What it means is that patience is an admirable quality and is worth as much or more than being full of money.

When I was a kid, I thought my dad and later on my brother were the smartest men I knew at that time. As I matured and went out in the business world, I found other men who were very devoted to their professions and I thought them particularly bright in what they did for a living.

I remember buying Mom and Dad one of the first electric can openers on the market then in around 1953. They cost a grand twenty-five dollars which was a lot of money then. I brought it home to Mom and Dad for a holiday present and many of the neighbors came in to watch it revolve and be astonished at the possibility of opening a can of vegetables with the lid coming off in a neat manner. Dad washed the can out and for fun opened the other end just for us to see it move in such an innovative manner. Now days, they tell you to eat fresh foods rather than use canned foods because of something in the metal of the can that is harmful for your health. We did not know these things in the days of 1950’s and happily used canned food to make soup, spaghetti sauce use, fruits in cans were very good. All the neighbors thought Mom and Dad had a very smart daughter to earn money and have enough and to be generous to her parents in this simple gift that was conceived in their minds as being something really important.

To be patient and to anticipate that good things will happen to good people if they wait, if they are courteous, if they are kind and most of all respectful to others is another saying I could make up for everyone to use. Regular people like you and I can be writers of Talmudic like sayings and not only can be write them, we can practice them in our everyday dealings with decent people. We need no teachers of the kids dancing to put them down, to make them cry and most of all to diminish their egos. To enhance someone’s feelings about themself is probably one of the most important mitzvahs (good deeds) we can approach and accomplish in our individual lives. Treating someone nice, even a stranger, can reward us with a feeling of gratitude and appreciation of our own life’s happiness and of our own good luck.

To end this story, the Talmud says "a single light answers as well for one hundred men as for one."

We can be that single light in someone’s life and it will not cost us any electricity charges on our bill. We will brighten and light up our own soul too.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
April 2012