The Noblest Undertaking
Yael Eckstein | October 9, 2022
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever. — Psalm 136:25
In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
Jewish tradition confers the title of “Great Song of Praise” to just one psalm — Psalm 136. What is so special about this psalm that it is deserving of that title over all of the rest?
The Talmud explains that behind this title is the idea that “the Almighty sits in the high heavens and distributes food to each and every creature.” This is illustrated in this psalm, which reads: “He gives food to every creature…”
The great praise of God is that He is not too great to care for the needs of even the smallest of creatures. Despite His unlimited power, control, and authority over the universe, God does not deem Himself “too important” to be concerned with the daily, mundane needs of every single living creature.
Now, can you imagine for one moment that the Queen of England spends her time dishing out broth in a soup kitchen? Maybe she might once or twice for a photo opportunity, but every single day? Normally, the greater the person, the less likely they are to spend time serving others less fortunate. Yet, we learn from this psalm and God’s example that the noblest undertaking a person can ever do is to help another person — no matter who he or she may be or what the job may entail.
The Noblest Undertaking
A story is told about a prominent rabbi in Jerusalem who was held in such high esteem by his followers that wherever he walked, a large number of followers accompanied him. One day, as the rabbi walked home from prayers with the usual entourage in tow, he heard the sound of crying. The rabbi stopped and searched for the source. He discovered a little girl wailing behind a bush.
The rabbi’s followers watched speechlessly as the elderly man sat himself on the ground, wiped away the tears of the little girl and asked what was bothering her. “My friend told me that my dress is ugly,” the girl cried. “You tell your friend that I think your dress is beautiful,” replied the rabbi. With that, the girl broke into a smile and happily ran off to play.
Friends, let us remember that no job is beneath us. Whether it is wiping away the tears of a child, feeding the homeless, or even taking out the garbage, the noblest undertaking we can do is to help other people.
The great praise of God can be our praise, too. When we humble ourselves before others, we rise to great heights in the eyes of God.