The Return on Kindness
Yael Eckstein | June 11, 2020
So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back. — Numbers 12:15
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Behaalotecha, which means “when you raise up,” from Numbers 8:1–12:16.
Recently I was touched by the story of Eli Beer, an American Israeli who had contracted coronavirus. Eli is the founder and director of Israel’s volunteer ambulance service and was on a fundraising trip in the U.S. when he became ill. Eli suffered from a serious case and ended up intubated in a Miami hospital. Suddenly, the man responsible for saving so many lives was at great risk of losing his own.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world who knew Eli because of his lifesaving work in Israel prayed for his recovery. Miraculously, Eli woke up from a thirty-day coma and began breathing on his own. When he was released from the hospital, a philanthropist donated a private jet to transport Eli safely to Israel. Upon landing, more than one ambulance waited for him at the airport. In tribute to Eli’s dedication to saving lives, the entire fleet of ambulances and volunteers that he himself had cultivated over the years were all there to celebrate his recovery and welcome him home.
King Solomon wrote, “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). In other words, the kindness that a person does today returns to him or her; it’s only a matter of time. Who knows if not for Eli’s selfless dedication to saving lives if he would be alive today?
In this week’s reading, we learn that Miriam spoke inappropriately about her brother Moses (Numbers 12:1-2). As a consequence, she was struck with leprosy and quarantined outside the camp for seven days. While the Israelites had been about to set out from camp, they stayed where they were and waited for Miriam to be healed. Why?
More than eighty years earlier, Miriam had waited at the Nile until she was certain that her brother Moses, who was floating in a basket, was safe and cared for. Now, because of that kindness and compassion for her baby brother, 600,000 people waited respectfully for Miriam until she was once again healthy and adequately cared for.
It’s not always easy to be kind to others, especially when we are asked to go significantly out of our way or work particularly hard. Yet, I want to encourage us to do all the kindness we can whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
Kindness is like a boomerang — it will eventually make its way back to you.
Your turn: Perform an extraordinary act of kindness today and go the extra mile.