Ear­li­er this week Rav Ron Yitz­chok Eisen­man wrote about an unex­pect­ed Hava Nageela moment. He will be blog­ging here all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

Yes­ter­day a man came to see me for an appoint­ment. As he came in to 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 indent­ing 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.