The Work of Kindness

Yael Eckstein  |  April 14, 2023

Yael standing with a child in front of a an Aliyah flight holding an Israeli flag

Blessed are those who act justly,
    who always do what is right. —
Psalm 106:3

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.

I once heard a story about a man who was asked what his wife did for living. He replied, “She takes care of kids who have no other home. She feeds them, bathes them, and takes care of them. She also spends her own money on the things they need.” After the man stopped speaking and the listener looked impressed, he added, “By the way, the kids happen to be our own.”

Our society sends us messages that often conflict with true godly values. One of those values that is constantly under attack is motherhood. If a woman is putting her kids in daycare so that she can volunteer to take care of other people or some communal cause, she is praised as a “do-gooder.” But the supreme value of simply raising one’s own children is cheapened by not being recognized for what it is, an act of the purest selflessness. To be a mother is literally to give compassionately all the time.

The Work of Kindness

In Psalm 106 we read, Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.” In the original Hebrew, the end of the verse actually says, “who always perform acts of charity.”

Now, obviously, it is impossible to do acts of charity all of the time. Our personal needs such as eating and sleeping must be attended to, too. On the other hand, when a person’s life is devoted to acts of kindness and charity, when giving selflessly is the framework for one’s day-to-day life, even their personal time, their eating, and their sleeping are part of the kindness.

If the reason we eat, sleep, and relax is to refresh our energies so that we can get back to the work of kindness, then even that time away from giving to others is itself part of the process of giving.

What’s true of mothers can be true of all of us, if we have the right attitude. Is our down time selfish? Or are we giving ourselves the rest we need so that we have more strength to give our best to others?

Your Turn:

Make it your goal to help others. If you earn money, share it. If you relax and re-energize in the morning, help someone out in the afternoon. We can transform every single moment of the day into an act of charity and love.

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