Earlier this week Rav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman wrote about an unexpected Hava Nagila moment. His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
Yesterday a man came to see me for an appointment. As he came into the office he asked me, “how’s everything?” At first I did not answer, so he asked again, “Is everything alright?”
Once again, I did not answer.
I do not recall when the phrase “how’s everything” first became part of our vernacular. When I was a child, people greeted each other with “How are you today?” or “How do you do?” I don’t think the phrase “how’s everything” became popular until the era of a cell phone on every belt clip and a blue tooth in every ear.
Whenever this phrase became popular, I really dislike it and do my best never to use it.
Why do I have such disdain for this seemingly innocuous greeting? What possible reason could there be for me, a normally mild mannered and easy going person, to become full of wrath and contempt about the use of this little ditty of a phrase?
The reason, which has been made clear to me on numerous occasions, was particularly brought home yesterday when this fellow asked the question. Here was an individual who had requested a meeting to see me about his concerns. Nevertheless, normal human relations necessitate a formal asking of your host’s health and well being. For this somewhat almost perfunctory necessity, people would say, “How are you today?” That was fine. The petitioner would at least sincerely inquire as to how his host was feeling today.
However, nowadays we have this all encompassing and meaningless greeting “How’s everything?”
When I hear it, I say to me, “does he really want to know HOW IS EVERYTHING?” What does that mean, “everything”?
Does he want to know all about my children and their issues? What about me and my personal struggles and battles? What about communal affairs? Does he really want to inquire about EVERYTHING?
Of course not.
Therefore one can deduce that when one says “how’s everything” they really do not care about anything!
However, by using the word “everything” they are being politically correct in conveying the artificial message of care or of setting up the illusion that they really care about everything when in reality perhaps they are interested in nothing.
Try this sometime: The next time someone asks you, “how’s everything?” Answer, “I am so happy you asked” and proceed to discuss at length your issues at work, your issues with world politics, your issues with… everything! And then see their reaction.
For those who think this post is Much Ado About Nothing, you are right.
When people say: “how’s everything?”— they are intending for all to believe that they are interested in “much ado” while in realty it is all nothing.
So let us begin our own little “We Hate ‘How’s Everything’” club:
Show you really care about people and stop using the phrase how’s everything.
All members of the club should only say “How are you today” and really listen and care about their answer! Let’s attempt to stamp out this depthless and casual type of greeting. Let’s go back to the meaningful, “How are you today?”
This can make all the difference in the world.
Thank for reading and by the way, “How’s Everything?”
Rav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman’s “The Elephant in the Room” is now available.
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Author Blog: How's Everything?