Reb on the Web




Less is more. I love that saying, especially because it so often turns out to be true.  Have you ever run into this problem?  You research something on the internet and the article you read has a link.  The next thing you know you have clicked that link and now you are reading a second article that is slightly off-topic from your original research.  Halfway through this second article there is another link.  By now you can no longer help yourself and you have clicked the third link.  Halfway through the third article you have totally forgotten what your original topic was even about!  The more you click, the more you get lost.  In other words, less is more!            

This principle applies in so many different ways.  For example, I rarely hear that services are too short!  I readily admit that the rabbinic world can do a much better job at creating services that are not drawn out, but are instead more exciting, energetic, spiritual and concise.  In other words, less is more!            

For all of you baseball fans, would it not make sense for the powers that be to figure out a way to speed up the game?  Would not a two hour game be much more exciting to watch than a three hour game?  In other words, less is more!            

Perhaps then this principle can be applied to almost every scenario.  Researchers in England recently carried out an experiment measuring the difference between a lengthy and full handshake and a fist bump.  Researchers had people put on sterile gloves.  They then had the gloves dipped into a solution of  E.coli bacteria.  The people wearing the E.coli bacteria gloves then shook hands or fist bumped with other people who were wearing sterile gloves.  The researchers found that a handshake transferred 10 times more E.coli than a fist bump.       

Think of the logic of this finding.  A handshake involves greater contact with someone else both in the amount of skin touched, the duration of that touch and the pressure applied, than the first bump experience.  The research says that you transfer 10 times the amount of germs with a handshake, than you do with a fist bump.  Here once again it is easy to come to the same conclusion that less is more!            

On the other hand, perhaps we should not be making decisions on the basis of germ contact.  I wonder what the high holidays would look like and feel like for me, if instead of shaking more than 1000 hands on a Torah procession, I instead fist bumped my way through the congregation.  A fist bump is cool and trendy and friendly and perhaps even sends the message that I am not too nerdy.  But on the other hand, a handshake that lingers, gives me a chance for greater eye contact and a moment to ask about a person’s life.  Sometimes a good old fashioned handshake is superior to a trendy and to the point fist bump.            

Sometimes we are so focused on speed.  We want our cell phones and computers and video games to function with supersonic speed.  Our attention spans have shrunk to almost nothing.  Our patience has become almost nonexistent.  So it’s true that in a general kind of way, that less is more.  Yet there are moments when “more is more.”             

Anything that gives us the opportunity to connect with each other on a more human and personal and caring level should fall under the category of “more is more.”  I am not against fist bumping.  But every once in a while remember to shake the person’s hand and look them in the eye and slowly and thoughtfully ask them how they are doing.  Pay attention to such moments and you will know that there are times when “more is more.”            

This summer come to Shabbat services.  We will enjoy davening with Cantor Rosenman.  We will meditate together.  We will learn together. We will even shake hands, and yes, a fist bump or two may also be in order.         

Enjoy the summer.  I look forward to seeing you soon. 


Rabbi Ira Rothstein