Beware of the Grammar Police!

by Rabbi Ze’ev Smason


Not many kids turn their lemonade stands into successful ventures, but 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer has raised the bar to a sky-high level.   After securing $60,000 on the hit TV show “Shark Tank” last year, Mikaila’s lemonade will now be sold in 55 Whole Food stores in states including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida.  The Austin, Texas sixth-grader built her lemonade business, BeeSweet Lemonade  with a 1940s lemonade recipe from her grandmother.   FUBU CEO Daymond John, an investor on “Shark Tank,” said he was pleased to join Mikaila’s team.  “Partnering with Mikaila made perfect sense,” John said in a statement. “She’s a great kid with a head for business and branding.”  Mikaila also attended the White House Kids’ State Dinner last year where she met President Barack Obama.

While the lemonade brand highlights the role of bees, Mikaila said she wasn’t always a fan. “When I was four years old, I got stung by two bees in one week.  It was painful. I was terrified of bees.  I didn’t enjoy the bee stings at all. They scared me,” Mikaila said.  “But then something strange happened. I became fascinated with bees. I learned all about what they do for me and our ecosystem. So then I thought, what if I make something that helps honeybees and uses my Great-Granny Helen’s recipe?”  Mikaila began to study the bees after her mother D’Andra turned her bee sting experience into a research assignment.  If it sells well, BeeSweet will be distributed to the rest of the US.  The profits are not solely for Mikaila’s gain. She has decided to donate a percentage to organizations working to protect the endangered honey bee population.  Mikaila is extremely proud of the product she and her family have created. “I really love my new label,” she says. “It actually has my face on it, so it makes me feel really special!”

Can something that seems bad be something good in disguise?  Absolutely. It is important to train oneself to look positively upon life’s situations. Often what appears as ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ ends up being a blessing.   What can we do to look at challenging situations in a positive light?  A Hebrew expression, gam zu l’tova, means ‘this too is for the best.’  When things don’t seem to be going your way, say gam zu l’tova.   Mikaila Ulmer has turned lemons into lemonade, becoming the CEO of BeeSweet Lemonade at only 11 years of age.  At times, even a hidden blessing such as a bee sting can turn out to be the sweetest blessing of all.

Parshas Tazria Leviticus 12:1 — 13:59
Parshas Tazria describes in great detail the varying and numerous manifestations of the disease called tzara’as. Although it has commonly been mistranslated as leprosy, this skin disease bears little resemblance to any bodily ailment transmitted through normal exposure.  Rather, tzara’as is the physical manifestation of a spiritual malaise, a punishment from G-d primarily for the sin of speaking loshon hara.  Loshon hara, meaning literally ‘the evil tongue’, is often translated as ‘gossip’.  However, loshon hara is the Hebrew term for derogatory speech that is true.  Motzei shem rah refers to derogatory speech about others that is false and slanderous. The metzora (one diagnosed with tzara’as) was to be sent into isolation, tear his garments, and call out ‘contaminated, contaminated!’ Since he abused his power of speech, sowing strife and distancing people from one another, it was fitting that he too should suffer the effects of isolation. The various punishments recorded in the Torah are not intended to serve as revenge for the sin; they are measures that will hopefully restore the person to the correct path.

Rabbinic Ruminations
“Their is cake in the fridge if your interested.”  Do you shudder when reading that sentence?  Do you long to correct it and don’t even care that your coworkers mock you as the grammar police? You may say it’s because you care about language, but it may indicate you’re an introvert.  A recent study finds that introverts are more likely to judge a person negatively on the basis of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.  People who are sensitive to grammatical errors are also more likely to be less agreeable by nature.  Extroverted people, though, are more likely to ignore written errors.  The study had 83 native English speakers respond to an email request for a roommate and judge what kind of roommate the writer would be. Some people read an email riddled with errors while others read one without mistakes.

The roommate email ad contained some simple typos (for example, it said ‘mkae’ or ‘abuot’). Typical grammatical errors were also made, including: to/too, it’s/its and your/you’re.  After the experiment, people were asked whether they had noticed the errors and how much it had bothered them.  One of the reasons that less agreeable people may be more sensitive to grammatical errors is it suggests ignorance, the study’s authors write:  “Typos are often attributed to carelessness and clumsy or hurried typing, rather than ignorance of spelling conventions.  When we encounter a grammatical error (‘grammo’) like to for too, we may wonder if the writer is ignorant of the to/too distinction.  If so, the attributions associated with grammos are more personalized and may thus be more likely to impact other unrelated assessments of the writer (such as trustworthiness), compared with the more neutral attributions associated with typos.”

Ethics of the Fathers (1:6) teaches, “Accept a teacher upon yourself, acquire a friend for yourself, and judge everyone favorably.”   What’s the connection between finding a teacher and friend, and giving others the benefit of the doubt?   Judging others favorably is the grease that allows the wheels of our relationships to turn smoothly. Without it, we won’t be able to keep our teachers or friends.  If you’re an officer on the Grammar Police force, consider taking your badge off — at least when among friends.

Quote of the Week
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone. – Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1865

Joke of the Week
Walking up to a department store’s fabric counter, a pretty girl asked the clerk, “I want to buy this material for a new dress. How much does this cost?”

“Only a kiss a yard,” replied the smirking male clerk.

“That’s fine,” replied the girl. “I’ll take ten yards.”

With expectation and anticipation showing all over his face, the clerk hurriedly measured out and wrapped the cloth, then held it out teasingly.

The girl took the package, smiled a big smile at the clerk, and then pointed to an old man standing next to her. “Grandpa will pay the bill! Goodbye!” she laughed and walked away.



1 Comment

  1. Smadk-cab what I was looking for-ty!

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