A Broken Promise by Jodi Samuels



Last summer, I was standing with Gavin, watching a concert in Tzfat.  It was part of the Klezmer Festival, one of our favorite summer activities.

We were sitting on a low wall on the side when a group of religious guys approached Gavin. One guy started explaining something to Gavin, and I could see gesturing and nodding. Then they left and Gavin had a smile on his face. I asked Gavin what they wanted. Apparently, one of the guys had made a promise that he could not keep.

According to Jewish law, a promise is a type of vow and a vow that cannot be kept has to be annulled. The process of annulling needs three male witnesses so the person who made the vow can annul it. I was so moved by the idea. Imagine if we lived in a society where our word was our word and a promise was a promise. There was an article in the mainstream press a few years ago that stated that over 90 percent of people tell white lies and think that's okay. The majority did not see themselves as immoral even if they regularly lied. After all, we all say things like "let's definitely get together" when you have no intention, or we promise our kids we will play x game tomorrow even when we know we won't.

While listening to the music, I pondered a world where people actually meant everything they said and took responsibility when they could not live up to the words they promised. Imagine the sensitivity in a marriage where words are measured and meaningful. Imagine how many parents could repair relations with their kids. Imagine how many sibling fractions could be resolved.

Perhaps as moms, it's our time to take a vow and promise to really value our words and to recognize the impact of everything we say. Hopefully, we will one day have the sensitivity to know when we break a promise.

Jodi Samuels was a JWRP City Leader with JInspire Manhattan in 2012 and 2013. She is also a writer and has worked in the not-for-profit, finance, fashion, beauty, and automotive sectors. She successfully started up two non-profit Jewish organizations, including the Jewish International Connection New York that currently boasts 10,000 members from 40 countries.


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