Smile! by Michael Winner/12/16/2021 A few Shabboses ago, we had a young couple over for a Shabbos meal. It's bit weird saying "young couple," since it makes me feel old, but they are 15 years behind us, so I guess that counts.They moved here nearly a year ago from Denmark. He used to be an evangelical Christian, and after learning Hebrew, he realized where the truth really lies and converted. And she herself has an interesting family background. They moved to Israel realizing that there is no Jewish future in Denmark, and are trying their best to learn the ropes of living in a frum community and living in a completely different environment.We have a warm relationship with them and when she asked if they can come over for a meal, we readily accepted. As my wife and I were preparing for Shabbos, we decided to come up with a list of questions for them, mainly about Denmark, since ... who knows (or cares) about Denmark?I started off with a light question, "Given the recent news of evangelical Christians trying to secretly join frum communities to convert people, are you one of them?" Without batting an eyelash he responded, "It is ALWAYS my pleasure to bring people back to the 'Kingdom of Heaven.'"Now, given the nature of the question, you would think that the rest should be rather painless … until I asked who their favourite Norse god was. Immediately, they got into a fight about it. I don't know what the fight was about, because they both switched to Denmarkian (or Danish, if you will) and sounded like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. In the end, we never got a consensus. Very strange.We did learn, however, that Denmarkians (or Danes for normal people) DO have a natural enemy: The Swedes! And there is a law that is still on the books that states: If the waters between Sweden and Denmark freeze, any Swede who crosses over into Denmarkian territory, can be beaten with a wooden stick.Cute people, aren't they?When Yaakov was giving his final brachos to his children, he said of Yehudah "… and his teeth, white with milk …" (Bereishis 49:12).The Gemara (Kesubos 111b) says: "One who whitens his teeth to his friend [by smiling at him], is better than one who gives him milk to drink."Rav Pincus said that when a person gives his friend a cup of cold water, he does a huge chesed for him. However, water is water. It keeps a person alive, but it doesn't give him vitality. Imagine what a greater chesed he would do if he gave him a cup of cold milk instead.That is why Yaakov chose this bracha. A simple smile doesn't just keep a person "in neutral," it actually enlivens his day. He feels better about himself and others.As I started writing this, an additional thought came to me. Who is Yehudah? He is kingship. He is leadership. Perhaps that is why it was important for Yaakov to specifically give Yehudah this particular bracha. Being in a position of leadership is stressful. A leader has a lot riding on him and needs to make important decisions. Being so, a leader, might naturally be so focused on his own issues that he forgets the people around him. Therefore, Yehudah is being warned about the importance of smiling to others. That too is an important aspect of leadership.This past week, I attended the second of three talks that a well-known speaker gave to the community. It's on parenting and important rules and tips on how to parent properly. He took some time speaking about the importance of making sure that the home is always as "light" as possible. Music should be played, food should be prepared, etc. It should be a place that a child feels comfortable being in. He also spoke of the importance of how the parents (especially the fathers) walk into the house. He should never walk in and "go on the offensive" against his children or wife. He should always walk in with a smile.After giving this talk in a particular city, somebody came up to him and admonished him: "What you are teaching is against the Shulchan Oruch! It's against Jewish law!"Taken by surprise, he looked at him, and asked, "G-d forbid! What law could I have been teaching against?"The person smiled and replied, "When [the month of] Av [which contains Tisha B'Av and also means 'father' in Hebrew] enters, you should limit simcha."The joke also made the point of the reality of life in some homes.Either way, all people, leaders and non-leaders, should work hard to make it a point to smile at others. Not just to "keep them alive," but to help them live.Have a wonderful Shabbos!