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Simple Acts of Kindness

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein serving food at a Fellowship-supported soup kitchen in Jerusalem.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God. —
Micah 6:8

In Judaism, the word for charity is tzedakah, which literally means, “righteous giving.” This concept goes far beyond the traditional understanding of charity. It is not just an act of kindness and benevolence — it is an act of justice and righteousness. This is one of 12 devotions focusing on tzedakah and how we can incorporate its lessons into our lives. To learn more, download our complimentary Bible study on tzedakah here.

I was touched by a story that recently aired on the news in the United States about a little boy named Josiah. His simple faith and sense of what’s right and what’s wrong brought adults to tears. The story began when Josiah and his mother went into a Waffle House. Suddenly, Josiah noticed a dirty-looking man sitting outside the restaurant.

He began to ask questions. Why was that man so dirty? Why was he sitting outside the restaurant? His mother explained that the man was homeless. What does it mean to be homeless? After Josiah’s mother did her best to explain what it meant to have no home and no family or friends to help out, Josiah asked his mom if they could buy the man a meal, and his mother happily obliged.

Josiah and his mother invited the man into the restaurant. He sat there and no one waited on him, so Josiah got the man a menu while his mother explained to the man that he could order whatever he liked. At this point the other customers were watching the story unfold. But what really got their attention was what Josiah did when the food arrived. He sang out loud, “God our Father, God our Father, we thank you, we thank you, for our many blessings, for our many blessings, Amen, Amen.” Josiah’s mother recalled, “I cried, the man cried, and everyone cried.”

In today’s verse from the book of Micah, we come across one of the most simple, yet most important verses in the entire Torah. Leading up to the verse, God had rebuked Israel. He recalled the countless acts of love and kindness that He had done on their behalf, asking little in return. Yet, Israel betrayed God.

The prophet Micah, speaking for God, told the people they were not asked to bring extravagant offerings, to give up much at all, and certainly not to give up their children as was common in idolatrous practices at the time. Rather, he reminded them, “ . . . what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

I think nothing demonstrates that verse quite as well as the act of the little boy Josiah. Simple loving acts that bring glory to the Lord – that’s all God asks.

What simple act of kindness can you do today? It doesn’t take much to serve God and bring glory to His name. Help a stranger, be extra kind to someone who is down, provide some words of encouragement, or even buy a stranger a meal. God doesn’t ask much from us, yet He does everything for us. The least we can do is contribute what we can.

Learn more about tzedakah in this complimentary issue of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s Bible study series, Limmud (“study” in Hebrew), Tzedakah: Righteous Giving.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

Hebrew Word of the Day
November 9, 2018
Theme: Tzedakah

Tzedek —
Justice

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