Monday, April 24, was a special day at Shevach High School. The student body was privileged to hear from renowned speaker and rav, Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro. After a meaningful introduction by Shevach Menaheles Mrs. Shulamith Insel, Rabbi Shapiro, in his inimitable way, addressed what so many of us are thinking about during these days of S’firah: our relationship with one another.

With poignant anecdotes and divrei Chazal, Rabbi Shapiro spoke directly to the girls’ hearts, while outlining how one can acquire the important midah of “leiv tov.” He pointed out that there are girls who sit in “the dark” so often. They are not recognized by their friends and not embraced by their peers. We should not underestimate the power of a smile, or of a few kind words spoken to others.

Rabbi Shapiro focused on the theme of making a difference. He encouraged the girls by saying, “Don’t underpay. When you can do or say something, grab the opportunity to do so.” Underpaying is not getting involved when you could and should. In a positive manner, he gave the students the charge of becoming leaders in life. Drawing upon memorable personal experiences, he showed how the dynamics in many situations can be quickly changed when people show that they care.

Rabbi Shapiro specifically mentioned the time he was scheduled to speak to a group of young boys, and only one boy showed up. Instead of being upset, he spoke to that young man personally and ultimately transformed his life, without even immediately realizing it. One never knows the effect one’s words can have on another person.

The lessons learned from the days of Rabbi Akiva resonated very clearly with the students. All took away the message that it is our responsibility to bring others into our inner circle. If we are sensitive to that fact, we can be members of a group that constantly widens its circle and builds warmth among others.

The school is indebted to its Menaheles, Mrs. Insel, for making the magical morning possible. It is sure to have left a lasting impression on all who were there.