“So when Hashem made me wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘Let this be the kindness that you shall do me: whatever place we come to, say there of me: He is my brother.’” Genesis 20:13 (The Israel Bible™)
In 1998, the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of kindness NGOs, came together and encouraged the international community to recognize November 13 as “World Kindness Day.” This day is now focused on increasing acts of kindness, concentrating on the positive power of kindness that binds one to another, encouraging individuals to overlook boundaries, race and religion, and unite in goodness.
“Each day, we are bombarded with sad stories of pain and detachment between people,” said Rabbi Shmuel Lipsker, administrator for Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest running charity organization, to Breaking Israel News. “Helping others restores a sense of humanity and loving-kindness and contributes to tikkun olam, fixing and building a better world.”
Though it might seem obvious that people should be kind to one another, racism, anti-semitism, bullying, and violence seem to be on the rise. The need for simple acts of kindness bridges divides caused by race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic status.
So integral is kindness to man’s day to day survival, the Bible mentions “chesed,” loving-kindness, more than 190 times! These precepts apply to every person and even extends to how man must treat animals and even inanimate objects.
“Loving-kindness is a primary ethical virtue,” continued Rabbi Lipsker. “We, at Colel Chabad, take the idea of spreading kindness and tikun olum very seriously through our wide network of social welfare programs in Israel. We have actually been serving the Holy Land’s struggling citizens for 230 years!”
Colel Chabad does not need a specific day to increase its acts of kindness. Every day of the year, the charity organization feeds hungry Israelis, runs unique programs to ensure that orphans succeed in school and in day-to-day life, and offers daycare services to build the future of Israel’s youth, regardless of gender, age, marital status, ethnicity or religious observance. Its comprehensive services include programs for widows and indigent families, Holocaust survivors, immigrants, and the chronically ill.
As an example, through Colel Chabad’s Blavatnik Food Security program, located in 48 Israeli cities, 10,800 families receive food each month. Its 23 soup kitchens serve 3,000 meals a day and pre-holiday food and clothing vouchers are gifted to 25,000 struggling families including over 100,000 children.
“So crucial is kindness that ‘Ethics of the Fathers’ states that the world survives due to three things: prayer, Bible study, and kindness,” explained Rabbi Lipsker. “Additionally, we are taught to emulate the ways of God, as God is repeatedly referred to as ‘God of Rachmana,’ the Compassionate One, in the Talmud.”
Although World Kindness Day might be a wakeup call for many, chesed is actually a Biblical daily requirement. Some of the traits that kindness entails include: the giving of charity and showing compassion, and love and respect for others, including animals.
The Sages list many ways of showing kindness. These include visiting the sick, comforting a mourner, helping a couple marry, welcoming guests into your house, burying the dead, granting interest-free loans to the needy, feeding the hungry anonymously, sheltering the homeless, providing jobs for those in need of work, speaking kindly, making peace between people, imparting hope to the depressed, giving extra care to widows and orphans, and more.
So crucial is loving-kindness that the Sages emphasize that there is no limit to what one must do to spread goodness to others. Additionally, the Medieval sage Maimonides teaches that all acts of kindness fall under the Biblical dictum, “Love your fellow as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
“Judaism teaches that the daily doing of ‘mitzvot,’ which refers to good deeds, lifts up each day and makes it special,” said Rabbi Lipsker. “We believe that our acts of kindness not only give pleasure to others as well as ourselves, but, also builds our portion in the world to come.”
It is clear that kindness and charity should not be limited to World Kindness Day, but also every day. Each and every day, we should expand our loving-kindnesses, focus on the positive power of giving and recognize that kindness is the thread which binds one to another.
To donate to Colel Chabad’s network of social welfare programs, please visit here.
Written in cooperation with Colel Chabad.