middot loving-kindness besorah loving-kindness and awareness

loving-kindness and awareness

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-handoutgloveI work as a case coordinator in a psychiatric group home. In December, a couple who live a few houses down from the home paid a visit asking us if they could give an offering of gifts for the clients. 

They had been in the neighborhood for years and noticed our folks traveling up and down the block and felt motivated to offer unused hats, gloves, and blankets accumulated over years of holiday seasons. Needless to say we were all warmed by their gestures and we decided to bring them a thank-you gift. I had the privilege of delivering the gift and when the gentleman answered the door and received the gift he said, “You folks are the kindest people on the street.” I was astonished by the comment. I had thought the same thing about them, and all we did was respond to their kindness! This is certainly the stuff of Hallmark commercials and Lifetime movies; but in the context of life, it can be powerful to experience the impact of small gestures of kindness.

Yeshua is an expression of God’s loving-kindness towards His creation. When Yeshua was living among us, he was known for miracles as well as for his teachings. It is important to note that the miracles Yeshua performed were gestures of loving-kindness. Whether providing food and drink, rest from the burden of illnesses, safety from storms, or new life, Yeshua was in the business of extending loving-kindness to those in need.

One main feature of Yeshua’s work was shared with the situation between my group home and our neighbors, and is good to keep in mind when working to advance in the middah of loving-kindness: Awareness. Yeshua was keenly aware of the needs of others set before him and responded accordingly. When we see, hear, and learn that someone is in need, this is an opportunity to bestow kindness: give a call, bring a meal, or take time to listen. There are probably many neighbors who aren’t even aware we are a group home. On the one hand, this is good (it preserves confidentiality). On the other hand, it was awareness of our clientele that moved our neighbors to give their gifts. Awareness of the opportunities before us open us to extend loving-kindness more frequently and thoughtfully. Many of Yeshua’s healings took place while he was on the way to wherever he was going. He never missed an opportunity to demonstrate loving-kindness. May we learn to have similar awareness.


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