Some things in life have to be earned, and some things cannot be. We can earn respect and reputation by our behavior, but sometimes we need help, or forgiveness, or just a break, that we haven’t earned and don’t deserve. And we can also give to others gifts they don’t deserve and don’t have to earn. That sort of undeserved kindness is captured by the word Hesed, often translated as lovingkindness.
Here's a drash on loving-kindness adapted from my book Creation to Completion, which comments on parashat Ki Tisa (Ex. 30:11-34:35).
Parashat Ki Tisa includes Hashem’s revelation of his glory to Moses, the thirteen attributes of God. This self-revelation opens with the words, “Adonai! Adonai! a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, full of chesed v’emet—loving-kindness and truth” (Ex. 34:6). Earlier, in the Ten Words, Hashem had declared that he would show chesed to “thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:6). Chesed is an aspect of God’s character, an aspect that gets sorely tested in this parasha, when Israel builds the Golden Calf. But this same story also reveals the possibilities of chesed on a human level through the example of Moses.
Among messianic Jews, much has been said concerning the parallels between the sacrifices of the paschal lamb and that of Yeshua. After all, the paschal lamb was the essential sacrifice which God commanded the children of Israel to make before liberating them from bondage to the Pharaoh of Egypt and bringing them to Sinai where they would enter into a covenant of service to Him.
'The kindnesses of the Lord I shall sing forever; to generation after generation I shall make known Your faithfulness, with my mouth. For I said, "Forever will it be built with kindness; as the heavens, with which You will establish Your faithfulness."' -– Psalms 89:2-3
The lessons of kindness coming from the scriptures are as boundless as the kindness Hashem used when He formed Creation. The midrash teaches us that the Torah begins with kindness (the clothing of Adam and Eve) and ends with kindness (the burial of Moses). It seems that chesed is a fundamental force of the universe.