You mentioned tonight that we should fulfill the words of the Mishna, to be מקבל כל אדם בסבר פנים יפות – to greet everyone with a nice facial expression. But isn’t it a right way for a humble man always to have his eyes downcast when he walks?
Certainly it’s the right way. And if you don’t know who is passing you, so you don’t know. But suppose somebody accosts you and you hear your name mentioned, so now you have to forget that you’re an anav and now you have to raise your eyes and you have to discharge your responsibilities. You have to do what the mishnah tells you to do.
Like it says about Avraham Avinu, וישא את עיניו – He lifted up his eyes (Vayeira 18:2). You know Avraham didn’t just look. When Avraham had to look someplace, he discussed with himself, “Does it pay to lift up the eyes?” And when he came to the decision that it’s yes, so he lifted up his eyes. That’s what it means וישא את עיניו – He raised up his eyes.
We think it’s just an expression because our eyes are always roving. But Avraham wasn’t looking everywhere. He was looking on the ground in contemplation. He was always communing with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. But now he saw somebody coming, he heard them, so he discussed with himself should he interrupt his meditations? And he said, “Well I have to do it. Somebody’s coming. I have to greet him.” So he lifted up his eyes.
So when you are accosted by somebody, even though you’re a big tzaddik and your eyes are always on the ground, you have to make a decision to raise your eyes. And once you’re greeting that person you have to go all the way and do it with these three conditions. And remember the three conditions, seiver panim yafos: Number one, panim, your face you have to show. Two, it has to be seiver, a face with thought in it, and three, it should be yafos, a nice expression on your face.