Shalom Aleichem

On a Friday night walking home from shul, I’m stopped by a stranger in a car. He wants to know where Preuss is.

I don’t know.

I ask my friend.

She doesn’t know.

A rabbi comes out of his home and gives the right directions.

"Thank you, rabbi! Gut Shabbos!" I yell.

"I didn’t know he was a rabbi," says my friend.

"Yeah," I say. "I’ve published two negative things about him and one positive. Everyone I meet, I have this internal scorecard for how much I should cringe based on what I’ve published about them."

"You do it to yourself," says my friend.

It’s her favorite phrase — always accurate — in response to these problems of mine.

Orthodox Judaism keeps putting me in intimate communion with my fellow Jews.

One Saturday night a month, for instance, there’s a three-page blessing for the new moon. It requires you halfway through to greet three people with a "Shalom Aleichem!" And one should return the greeting with an "Aleichem Shalom."

So as I look into the face of each person I greet, I quickly tabulate what I’ve published about them. If it’s something damaging, I can’t help shrinking away.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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