You Don’t Need Time or Money

June 17, 2011 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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Charity and kindness are of the most important aspects of Jewish tradition. The Talmud teaches that compassion and acts of goodness are the trademarks of the Jewish soul. Charity brings blessing, hastens the final redemption and is compared to all of the Mitzvot put together.

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

There are various forms of giving. We can assist someone in need with something tangible like money or gifts. Another form of kindness, of equal importance, is time. Spending time guiding, advising, motivating, or just being a listening ear are all legitimate ways to fulfill this important Mitzvah.

But there is another form of giving that is possibly even more powerful and important. It takes very little effort and yet does not receive the attention and importance it deserves. This is simply saying something small to someone in a way that makes them feel valued and respected. This can be achieved by saying a kind or uplifting word to someone feeling down or as simple as a warm “hello” greeting to a friend or even a stranger.

The Talmud teaches that he who gives a coin to a poor person receives three types of blessings. However, if he says a soothing word and makes him feel better, he is given eleven blessings. It also teaches that greeting someone properly brings the blessing of longevity.

Giving someone time or money fulfills an external need. They provide important support but don’t address the inner essence of the individual. A kind word or a warm greeting respects their human dignity and inner soul. Every human being is created in the image of G-d and possesses a soul of Divine origin. Respecting and uplifting that person is recognition of his/her Divine imprint.

We might not all have a lot of time or financial resources to help others in big ways. But we can all take a few seconds to say something positive to someone else or to greet the neighbor, garbage collector or the mailman with a smile. These small acts of real kindness deepen relationships, and inject a positive energy and a flow of blessing into all of existence.

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