Chesed or loving-kindness is an essential human attribute, but it’s first of all a divine attribute. If we want to cultivate chesed, we should pay attention to how Hashem exercises it. And God’s chesed is on display at the conclusion of the Haftarot of Comfort, the passages from Isaiah that we read during this period between Tisha B’av and Rosh Hashanah.
In his commentaries in both the Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur Koren Machzorim Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks of the God who “creates us in love and forgiveness, who loves and forgives, and asks us to love and forgive others.” Love is so often found side-by-side with forgiveness in discussions of God’s relationship with us.
My maternal grandfather is often one of the least effusive people I know. He has a big white beard and it is rare that one can get a sense of what’s going on under there at any given moment. Affectionate would not be the first word that comes to mind when I think of him. At the same time I can safely say he is the kindest man it has ever been my privilege to know.
Righteousness, in its simplest form, is doing the “right” thing. It can be argued that observing the mitzvot is practicing righteousness, and it certainly does lead us into righteousness, but its more than simple observance. It’s about attitude when we do a mitzvah.
A person running to do a mitzvah can destroy the world on his way. -- Rabbi Yisrael Salanter
Perhaps one of the hardest things to attain is righteousness. We strive to pursue that which will bring heaven on earth; yet at the same time, we sometimes disregard those around us or hurt our fellow man in the process. How is this righteousness? The mere truth is that it isn't.