Daf Yomi Nedarim 60
When he was in college, a friend of mine had a daily competition with himself. He would greet everyone he passed with a ‘Good morning!’ or ‘Good afternoon!’ Some would respond, some wouldn’t. After a while, you start seeing the same people on a regular basis and you categorize people into responders and non-responders. But he was vigilant. Every so often, a non-responder would awake from their daze, smile and respond. And each night, in his dorm room, before he would go to sleep, he would place a chalk mark on the wall for every new responder he had transformed that day!
Rabbi Chanina Tirtaah quoted Rabbi Yannai: If one planted an onion that was terumah (priestly tithe), but the amount of the growth exceeded the amount of the root, the entire onion is permissible for Israelite consumption.
The Ran explains: The leaves which have grown around the root nullify the status of the root, making it no longer terumah.
The Gemara exclaims: You mean to say that positive growths have the power to elevate the negative?!
They say ‘a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.’ When you introduce positive energy into a situation, you have the power to elevate the negative. There is no shortage of opportunities throughout your day that you can take negative situations and transform them into positive energy.
Let’s say you’re having a conversation and the topic of discussion turns to some potential lashon hara (gossip). You have three choices:
Choice #1 – relish in the conversation. Bad decision. You’ve now been engulfed by the negative energy.
Choice #2 – walk away. Not bad. The conversation probably ends there but it’s at best a neutral position, because the others will revile you as a goody two-shoes.
Choice #3 – casually redirect the topic of conversation. You’ve now taken the negative energy and transformed it into positivity!
Another example. How many unhappy people do you encounter each day? Some of them have real reasons to be feeling the way they do. Others choose to have a sad, negative countenance, no matter how much good they experience in life. But either way, you have the ability to elevate that negativity by bringing a smile to their face. How do you do that? Either say something nice or tell them a joke to lighten their mood. Think about it: how many times a day does the Almighty give you such wonderful opportunities to elevate the negative energy and transform it into positive energy?
One more example: there is no limit to the amount of positivity you can evoke with this one. Just saying hello to people. The Talmud tells us that Rabbi Yochanan would strive to be the first one to say hi to everyone in the shopping centre, Jewish or not. You have no idea how good you could make a person feel just by acknowledging them. Some people don’t get much recognition in this world. And so, whether it not it makes everyone feel awesome to be greeted, it certainly doesn’t hurt! Once more, you’ve now found a way to potentially elevate the negative to the positive so many times each day!
Just like my friend in college, you too can have a daily competition with yourself. As you lie in bed at night, think of all the negativity you transformed that day into positivity. May you merit improving your score each day as you elevate more and more negative energy into positivity!