The Kindness Test
Yael Eckstein | April 28, 2023
“May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.” — Genesis 24:14
Compassion is one of Judaism’s highest values and this caring concern and empathy for our fellow human beings is considered one of the three distinguishing marks of being Jewish. Enjoy these 11 devotions on this very important concept for Christians and Jews.
Although Judaism does not seek converts, we do welcome people who sincerely wish to become Jewish. The biblical example of the person who joined the nation of Israel was Ruth, who famously declared to her mother-in-law Naomi, “Your people will be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
Interestingly, according to Jewish tradition, the first laws from the Torah that are supposed to be taught to someone who wants to become Jewish are not the Ten Commandments or the laws of the Sabbath. According to the ancient codes of Jewish law, when someone comes forward to become Jewish, the first thing we teach them is the obligation to give gifts to the poor.
The Kindness Test
The basis of this tradition goes back long before Ruth. When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, the servant devised a test. He prayed to God, “May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.”
Moments later, Rebekah appeared. Abraham’s servant asked her only for a little water from her jar. But Rebekah proceeded to go beyond the call of duty, and “After she had given him a drink, she said, ‘I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.’ So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels” (vv. 19-20).
Rebekah passed the kindness test!
There is a lesson here for us all. While there are many traits we try to develop — courage, wisdom, and others — we must always remember that our kindness and compassion are most valued in the eyes of God. When we willingly and generously serve others, we, too, pass the kindness test.
The next time you encounter someone who is needy, follow Rebekah’s example and give even more than was asked.