Chessed. Acts of kindness.
There’s nothing greater in Jewish tradition.
But there’s an interesting phrase in the Torah.
“Doing kindness and truth”. (Genesis, 47:29)
Because sometimes we can try to be kind with the best of intentions.
But in truth we’re not really helping the other person.
… Exhausted after driving through the night, a man pulls over to get some sleep.
He has just about fallen asleep when there’s a knock on the window.
A jogger. “Excuse me. Do you have the time?”
He finally falls asleep and there’s another knock.
This time it’s a hiker. “What time is it?”
“It’s 8:25”, the frustrated man says.
Fed up, he puts a sign on the window.
“I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS!”
A few minutes go by and he is woken again.
He’s barely able to force his eyes open and what does he see?
A smiling Boy Scout.
“Good morning sir. I wanted to let you know that…
… It’s not enough to want to help someone.
We need to do our best to make sure it will be helpful.
… I was once at the dedication of a new Torah scroll at a local yeshiva high school.
There was lively music and hundreds of people dancing.
And, off to the side, a father stood with his special needs son watching the festivities.
What would be the kind thing to do?
It’s not so simple.
Someone could run over, grab the boy and say,
“Come let’s dance!”
But that may not be kindness.
Because the boy may not be comfortable dancing.
Another person might decide not to get involved.
Because he doesn’t know what to do.
He’s not sure what would make the boy feel good.
That’s not necessarily kindness either.
Along came a 14-year-old student at the yeshiva.
And he knew how to do kindness and truth.
He went over to the father and said…
“Would your son enjoy it if we made a little circle and danced?”
… Sometimes the kind thing to do is obvious. And sometimes it’s not.
But we have an obligation to be sensitive and to try.
And to make sure that it’s true kindness.