10 June 2018

Basic Concepts: "Chessed (Kindness)"

27 Sivan 5778

Our primary job in this world is to emulate our Creator by giving to others as He is the ultimate Giver. Human beings are driven by their base natures to seek to "get," yet no matter how much they "get," it never seems to make them happy. The greatest joy a human being experiences comes as an act of giving.
...Man's task is to build the world according to Divine commands and conceptions. Whoever performs a chessed, a kind act, actually builds and completes the world. G-d built an incomplete world, so to speak, and handed it over to man to complete via performance of his task. By the same token, G-d decreed circumcision to perfect man, and it must be precisely on the eighth day so as to complete the seventh day, which symbolizes "G-d's work," as it were.

...The goal of G-d's command to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28) is for man to provide himself with future generations to build the world according to Divine ethics. ...By emulating G-d's attributes in building the world, one brings the world peace and perfection.

The Hebrew word for attributes, midot, also means measurements. Thus, G-d's midot, His worldview and values, are the midot, the yardstick to be used in building the world. Accordingly, we can understand the verse, "The world is built upon kindness" (Psalms 89:3), to mean that whoever does acts of kindness, G-d's great attribute, and builds the world by this measure and standard, perfects it in accordance with G-d's will.

...We have seen that the world rests on kindness. Although our sages said (Avot 1:12), "The world rests on three things: Torah, Divine service and lovingkindness." Torah and Divine service are only vehicles to refine man's behavior on this earth, and proper behavior hinges on kindness. If there is no kindness, chaos strikes the world and people swallow one another alive.

...Make no mistake. Kindness, per se, is not the main purpose of creation or of Torah. Rather, it is the most outstanding, pronounced expression of modesty, self-abnegation, subjugation of the evil impulse and acceptance of G-d's yoke discernible to man. Man, by giving, nullifies his sense of taking. By worrying about his fellow man, he suppresses his selfishness, arrogance and lust.

There is nothing great or praiseworthy about the poor person's receiving kindness or charity. In taking and benefiting, one performs no mitzvah. The mitzvah is entirely in that the giver gives, that the kind person's mercy wells up and he forgets himself, his property and his selfishness, suppressing his ego and giving of his money or time to someone else. In doing so, he reinforces the humility within. By suppressing his evil impulse and lessening his lust, arrogance and selfishness, he fulfills his task on this earth. For this he was created.

[Source: Or Hara'ayon, Chapter Seven: "Chessed (Kindness),pp. 155-158]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments will only be accepted with an attached name, pseudonym, or initials - some identifier that allows the readers to differentiate between anonymous posters.