In the age of the internet there are an incredble number of new “holidays.” This coming week alone we “celebrate” National Caviar Day (18th), Moonday (20th) and National Junk Food Day (21st). In 2014, an Israeli non-profit organization, Made in JLM (which works with Israeli start-ups) decided to create a new international holiday that they named International Firgun Day. The chosen date was July 17th.

Firgun, (pronounced feer-goon, from modern Hebrew) according to several internet definitions, means: “a genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of someone else; giving credit where it is due, fairly and without jealousy.” A firgun is the ideal of a compliment as it looks fully at the other person with no ulterior motive and with a depth of recognition of the other person’s character (as opposed, for instance, to “I like the shirt you are wearing”).

Firgun is not a native Hebrew word, but rather a slang that evolved from the Yiddish word firgenun. As with so many cross language words, there is no singular English term that translates either firgenun or firgun, but that does not mean that International Firgun Day cannot be celebrated by all. 

At the heart of the concept of firgun is the idea of an ayin tova, a good eye. Having a “good eye” means looking to see the positive, and it is a trait listed as one of the basic attributes a good person should have (Pirkei Avot /Ethics of the Fathers 2:10).

Seeking joy in other people’s lives inevitably makes multiple people happy, thus bringing peace, shalom, to the world.

This Treat was originally posted on July 17, 2017.

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