If You See Something, Say Something

If You See Something, Say Something

When I met Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi 19 years ago, she was far from being the “Chief Rabbanit of Israel” as some quip today.

She was just Yemima, a Hebrew teacher at an ulpan for immigrant lawyers, the nice mother I’d say hello to when I was picking up my daughter Hadas and she was picking up her son Bentsion after nursery school.

She was such an unknown that when my friend Yikrat (now Rabbanit Yemima’s legendary editor) invited me to a parsha class Yemima was teaching in her living room for 6 or 7 women, I told her I didn’t have time. Oh, how I kick myself today that I gave up that opportunity to study almost privately with Rabbanit Yemima…Like turning down a chance to buy Google stocks in 2004.

But even when Rabbanit Yemima was just Yemima, I noticed that she had an amazing gift.

Nearly every time I saw her, Yemima would say something that made me feel great about myself.

“Jeeny, you lost weight!”
“Jeeny, this is a gorgeous color on you!”
“Jeeny, I love your writing!” she once called out to me from her living room window, and added, pointing Heavenward “Thank Him for this gift you have!”

When Yemima transitioned from being my buddy to being my teacher and spiritual mentor about 15 years ago, she turned my world upside down, or, more exactly, right-side up. I received SO MUCH wisdom from her. So often, when faced with a personal question, I remember what Rabbanit Yemima said on that very issue, and see, yet again, how right on she was.

And one of the most important things I learned from her was–If you see something, say something. Not in the Homeland Security sense, but in the JewishMOM sense.

Rabbanit Yemima taught me, “If you see something nice in another woman, then tell her!”

And the truth is that I see nice things and think nice thoughts about other women all the time, and because of Rabbanit Yemima, I usually put my thoughts into words…

“That headscarf is gorgeous.”
“Your baby is so cute.”
“You are so calm with your toddler, that is incredible.”
“My son told me that your son is an fantastic piano player.”

I’m writing about this today, because I recently read a beautiful article by Michelle Fruchter in Ami Magazine about how we mothers can support and encourage one another called “Team Mom.”

Michelle Fruchter writes:
“I know a mother who is going through a hard time with several of her children, whose needs are complex. This mother has gone to many parenting classes, read every book under the sun, and consulted with professionals; she spends a large part of her day involved in the details of her children’s lives. In so many ways, she is a model mother.

“I run into her now and again in the supermarket, in the clothing shop and at the doctor’s office. Each time I see her, her shoulders look more bent; her smile is sad and her tone dejected. I know there is not much I can do to help, but I listen with compassion and understanding and give her a shoulder to lean on.

“I have done my best [time after time] to find one compliment I can give her, a bit of encouragement on her sad and difficult journey. Each time without fail, I see her eyes light up and she is able to stand just a bit taller. I cannot solve her problems, but as a fellow mother I can show her how much I believe in her.

“Never underestimate the power of a mother. We are innately blessed to be able to raise others up and to see hope when the road appears dark and lonely.

“I invite all of you to join Team Mom…Our bond crosses all barriers and overrides all differences. I will cheer for you and you will cheer for me. And in the end, we will all emerge victorious.”


  1. When my family started the shidduch parsha, I began to feel alone and dejected, feeling the weight of the responsibility and rejection squarely on my shoulders. I tried to reach out to other mothers in the parsha, looking for support and direction. instead, i felt an overwhelming sense of isolation as i experienced a sort of territorialism–as if sharing ideas and experiences with others would somehow diminish a person’s chances of success….
    I stumbled upon a group of ladies who called themselves The Chicago Shidduch Group. They had developed a model of supporting each other and networking, along with sharing segulos, tehillim, davening, and peulos toivos, in the hopes that the Achdus created would become a zechus for our own children’s journey towards marriage…
    I started a similar group in my neighborhood, always encouraging others to do the same. Baruch Hashem, we have seen much success in the number of children married. But more importantly, I am always cheered by the thought that we now have a supportive environment in which to make that journey…the achdus and warmth that the ladies create is tangible and very real …

    and we call our little group: Team Shidduch

  2. On this note… the opposite is true too. When I hear bad things about my kids by teachers meetings or on their report card it wears me down and makes me so upset. Makes me a worse mother. I wish there was a rule “only positive feedback allowed.” I’m sure that would only have positive results.

    • I have a neighbor whose words about my children and their neighborhood freinds really bring me down. While I can limit my conversation with the friend, with teachers it’s harder. I was thinking, if I were in your situation, I would tell the teacher (at the meeting) how I feel about it and ask her, together with me, to find 3 nice things to say about my child.

  3. I love how you went from R’ Mizrachi (Chief Rebbetzin sounds so right!) to Team Imas.
    Just want to add that if anyone wants giving more complements after reading your post today, and doesn’t know where to start, read How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. For me- it changed the way I speak to MYSELF. Much more compassionate, always able to find even something tiny to be happy about myself for.

  4. Only positive feedback allowed?
    Hearing anything negative wears you down and makes you upset?
    How will you ever fix anything if you don’t know about it?

    • The point is we know about it already, and we tell it to ourselves all day. It’s the positive that we don’t know and need to hear more of!

    • Rishe,the answer to your question is to be found in the sicha on Parshas Emor printed in Likutei Sichos vol.27 pages 158-166 (or Sicha #15 in Likutei Sichos Parshiyos: Emor)
      This is a beautiful sicha that I try to review at least once
      a year.
      There it is clearly stated that it is preferable to speak only of the positive in others, and the negative will disappear.
      The same sicha mentions a fascinating concept, that when you see a negative trait in someone,you should recognize that this means that the person has the power to overcome that trait. This means that the worse he is, the greater his potential!

  5. Vicki Belovski

    I met another mother out shopping this week, who said to me “I’m going to be very embarrassing and tell you what a lovely child you have” and then told me about two recent very positive interactions she had had with one of my kids. I was delighted – and told her it wasn’t embarrassing at all. It might be embarrassing if she told my child that, but for me to hear, out of the blue, something good about my child, which reinforced my opinion that they are a very special person – what a treat!

  6. I can’t tell you how much I love this idea- not only will it cheer up fellow Mommys on team mom but also being the one doling out compliments and positivity all day long can work wonders on our own emotional and mental well being!!! In my fledgling parent coaching practice, the most important thing I stress with moms is to constantly find and point out our children’s successes, accomplishments and positive character traits!
    Please keep the great posts coming!!!

    • thanks rachel, this is a great insight–that we also benefit from saying something when we see something!

  7. I think Dina Freedman teaches this, paying attention to the good and telling the person/child, as a way of increasing it. I have found it work wonders. Pointing out the flaws can be disheartening but the good can be used to overcome the less good when you are aware of it. Nobody is just black and white, everyone does some good that can be noticed.

  8. Yael Maizels

    Inspiring, want to find a mom right now!

  9. My daughter just posted “what we focus on expands” so if we want more positive energy we need to focus on it. That doesn’t mean we bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich to ignore the bad stuff. But we can strive to fix things that are wrong in our homes, families, and schools with the attitude: we have the power to make good things happen.

  10. Sima Shain

    Thanks loads for the chizuk.

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