The Kindness of Our Hearts

This year, National Random Acts of Kindness week leads up to one of my favorite Torah readings, Terumah. Teruma means “gift,” or “donation.” As the Israelites are traveling in the wilderness of Sinai, they’re receiving the commandments from God and from Moses. They’re learning how to serve a transcendent God as opposed to a human taskmaster (Pharaoh) who thinks he’s god, and is revered by the Egyptians that way.

There’s one problem with the concept of worshipping and having faith in a God that one can’t see or hear–who appears as a cloud or pillar of fire–it goes against logic and reason. In the pagan religions that the Israelites were fa, idols represented various deities and provided a tangible focal point for prayer and supplication. As we’ll see in the incident of the egel ha-zahav, the Golden Calf, the Israelites weren’t ready for such a huge change in their worship style.

In Terumah, God tells Moses to accept donations of various items and supplies kol ish yid’benu leebo, from each person whose heart moves him, v’asu li mikdash, v’shakhanti b’tokham, “Let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” These are voluntary donations, not required like last week’s half-sheckel, and the people responded wholeheartedly. They were so generous, in fact, that Moses had to ask the people to stop bringing.

In his book, Deep Kindness, author Houston Kraft tells of a high school student who came up to speak with him after a presentation. The student, in commenting abou the difference between being nice and being kind said, “I think nice is easy because of how reactive it is. Kindness… is way harder. Kindness is proactive.”

If being kind was easy, would we even need to talk about random acts of kindness, let alone dedicate a week, or even a day, to the idea? And what happens the rest of the time?

Our sages taught (Mishna Avot 1:2), al shlosha d’varim ha olam omed, al ha torah, v’al haavodah, v’al gemilut hasadim, “On three things the word stands; on Torah, on service and on acts of hesed, loving kindness.” Kindness doesn’t just fall in someone’s lap; it needs to be cultivated, and we need to seek out opportunities to perform acts of kindness.

These acts don’t have to be large; after all, neither Moses nor God specified the amounts that anyone was to donate; their generosity ultimately came from a desire to draw closer to God, and perhaps to each other. Being kind, being a kind person, doesn’t cost anything, but what it can give us in return is priceless.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Latest Sermons

Shoftim: Can Destruction be Just?
Shoftim: Can Destruction be Just?

Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. The spotted lantern fly has arrived in our area, and we’re being advised to squash them if we see them. This bug has no natural...

VaEtchanan: Until His Final Breath
VaEtchanan: Until His Final Breath

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/maltin75/6278446183 “Observe God’s laws and commandments, which I enjoin upon you this day, that it may go well with you and your children after you, and that you may long remain in the land that the LORD your God is assigning to you...

Parshat Pinchas: Looking For the Good
Parshat Pinchas: Looking For the Good

Photo: COSV from Wikimedia Commons. Women Gathering Wood, South Sudan My friend Sylvia (who says I’m her favorite female rabbi) is almost 98–may she live and be well–and is often troubled by the harsher judgments and more problematic passages in the Torah. And rightly...

Latest Midrash HaZak

Ekev: Standing on their Shoulders
Ekev: Standing on their Shoulders

  Credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Buff_Bill's_Circus Parashat Ekev Rabbi Arnie Samlan Ekev, the third reading in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), is a continuation of Moses’ farewell address to the Israelite nation poised to enter the Promised Land....

VaEtchanan: Rav Lach, It Is Enough For You
VaEtchanan: Rav Lach, It Is Enough For You

Photo by Rabbi Susan Elkodsi Va’Etchanan: Rav Lach, It is enough for you Rabbi Janet Madden, Ph.D Parshat Va’Etchanan opens with Moshe’s recounting to the new generation of Israelites that he pleaded with the Holy One to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. He...

Massei: The Journals of the Journeys
Massei: The Journals of the Journeys

Parashat Massei: The Journal of the Journeys Rabbi Ron Isaacs In 1960 I spent the summer at Camp Ramah in Canada. Advertised as a Hebrew-speaking camp, it was my first summer away from home. I decided to document my 8-week summer by keeping a diary which I still have...

Latest Personal Blogs

Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem
Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem

This past week, I participated in a Ritualwell class with Alden Solovy on "Writing From One Word of Torah." I distilled 3 stream-of-consciousness prompts on the word "Baruch/Berekh," the root of which can mean "blessing' and "knee, into this poem. Blessing my bended...

The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives
The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives An email from My Jewish Learning about “A Woman of Valor” prompted me to pivot the next evening’s planned adult learning session to looking at these 22 verses from Mishlei, the Book of Proverbs. These verses...

Live Long and Prosper?
Live Long and Prosper?

By Oklahoma Heritage Association, Gaylord-Pickens Museum - Author, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25656727 Live Long and Prosper? January 5, 2022 began the third year of the seven and a half-year cycle of Daf Yomi, the practice of...

Pin It on Pinterest