CHESED – LOVING KINDNESS
DOES EVERYONE need kindness?
The answer is definitely yes!
There are circumstances in life wherein even wealthy people who can get everything for money will only be able to attain their wishes through the kindness of others. For example, when a couple gets married, they need people to come celebrate with them in their joy, because people cannot rejoice alone. Likewise, if a person is sick he needs people to visit him and support him physically and emotionally. And when someone's close relative passes away and he is saddened he needs people to console him and speak with him to reduce his sorrow.
When a person is successful as well, when he is debating seriously about a serious business transaction and other such situations, he needs others to help him. He needs encouragement not to be deterred and to be told that he will succeed. After he has invested, when his money is hanging nowhere he is dependent upon kindness that the value rises, the transaction succeeds and that no troubles occur in the market causing his investment to dissipate.. And if he succeeds he still needs the good word of people participating in his joy and success.
If a person is in a strange land he needs help to know where to go and some guidance about what to be cautious in this country, etc. In every step he takes, a person is at the mercy of favors from those with high positions – whether for a bank loan, authorization from the authorities or G-d forbid, medical treatment. And what about success in raising children so that they are not hurt by scoundrels or dragged in with corrupt friends; that they are accepted in society, happy and jolly and not G-d forbid depressed and roaming around? There are endless additional examples and most importantly – a person is dependent upon the ultimate real kindness after his passing.
When we look into the matter we must ask ourselves – Do we have a good chance of receiving these kindnesses? Or we can ask otherwise – What can we do to be worthy of receiving all the kindnesses?
The merit of rabbi shimon bar yochai
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai writes in the holy Zohar that there is an unalterable law in nature that the Creator acts with a person the way he acts with others. If a person has mercy and performs good deeds and kindness towards others even when, in his opinion the recipient does not deserve to be dealt with kindly, so measure for measure, the Creator will deal with him – because there is an iron rule and law of nature that "He who has mercy on others – from Heaven they will have mercy on him."
A day when kindness was performed has special merits for the person to be redeemed for the salvation that he needs on just that day – for the kind deed rises to Heaven and advocates for that person before G-d.
Even if a person is not in need of special kindness at that time, that kindness is kept for him for a day when he does need it – just as one deposits cash in a bank before he writes a check. Every person needs Heavenly mercy every day, as it says in the Talmud (Masechta Shabbos) – 'When a person goes out into the street he is like one being judged and he doesn't know if he will be found guilty or innocent.' The street is full of obstacles and we know that unfortunately many innocent people left their homes in peace and something unfortunate occurred, whether it was financial, physical, emotional or otherwise.
Consequently, it is always worth one's while to have an accumulation of deeds of charity and kindness that will protect him at all times. We know that an inoculation before illness is much easier and effective than the healing one must undergo once the illness has entered a person's body. One must invest so much more in medication in order to destroy the existing disease and ease the suffering, and even then, the aftereffects of the disease sometimes linger on.
Therefore the Gemara says that 'A person should always ask for mercy before he becomes ill, because once he is sick he is told from Heaven 'Bring great merits and you will be freed.'
We see an example of this in the courts as well. A person can sometimes be exempted from punishment by evidence of his good character, pure traits and good deeds; yet the legal system will not accept the argument that from now on the person undertakes to behave well.
By the Creator, He actually does accept a person's promises even after he has been convicted – but the price is high and sometimes it is decreed upon a person that he must loose all his money in a bad deal and is thereby redeemed, rather than dying- or he may be judged for terrible suffering. The wise man plans ahead.
The history of those who neglected doing kindness
It is well known that the residents of Sdom and Amora were wiped away from the earth in a strange death. The event is documented in the holy Torah in detail. The Creator poured sulfur and salts upon them and they were burned completely. The angels held on to the boulder where the cities had been and they turned it over like a person turning a page – and nothing was left as a remembrance except for smooth earth. Why? Why?
The Prophet Yechezkel wrote in his book that they fulfilled the 'merit-producer' explained by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in its bad sense. It says, 'Lo, this was the sin of Sdom your sister. She and her daughters had plenty of bread, tranquility and peace and they did not support the poor and needy.' In other words, their country was full of all good and they did not need help from any other city or country near them – and they adopted the policy of 'We do not benefit from others and we will also not give to others' – as it says in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos, 'Mine is mine, yours is yours – that is the trait of Sdom, who did not let a poor man trod on their land.' "Let them work," they yelled. They sat on the pot of meat and did not look through a clear window; they looked at a mirror. They always saw only themselves, their hearts were sealed and the sorrow and cries of the unfortunate were not heard. In their opinion, unfortunate people who were physically or emotionally handicapped, or had bad fortune and failed in any attempt at livelihood should be condemned to die. Therefore G-d was angry at them and he erased them totally from the face of the earth – because the refutation of the trait of kindness causes the destruction of the world, as it says in the verse, 'For I have said, the world is built on lovingkindness.' G-d says that the world is built and maintained only in the merit of the trait of kindness.
When the prophet says, "What does your G-d demand of you, but to do justice and love kindness…" it does not mean that one should perform kindness against his will like one who is forced to do so, but he should love doing kindness. There is no comparison between what one does against his will as compared to what he does lovingly.
In the holy Zohar RASHBY writes that when the Creator of the world wants to send a present to a person he sends him a poor person or an act of kindness to do.
This means that sometimes the Creator wants to give a person a present – good health, a good feeling, happiness, a proper match, children, contentment from his children, affluence, etc – but there are prosecuting agents (in Heaven) that say, 'Why does he deserve it? What good deed does he do that he should be rewarded?' The Creator, our merciful Father sends the person an opportunity to perform a kind deed and he is thereby worthy of the good blessings from Heaven. If a person ignores the opportunity, it is totally his loss.
In line with RASHBY's idea, our Rabbis have explained the verse, '…and He will give you mercy and He will have mercy upon you.' G-d brings someone to request kindness and mercy from you and thereby He will have mercy on you. By your kindness you will merit that from Heaven they will have mercy on you. And if a person thinks that he is not worthy of receiving kindness from Heaven because he hadn't aroused himself to perform kindness and it was only sent to him from Heaven, he should know that King David says in the Psalms, 'And to You G-d does kindness belong, because You repay a man according to his deeds.' This means that the trait of kindness of the Creator is so great that he considers it as if a person had aroused himself to perform kindness and thereby his reward is greater (than if it wasn't his idea). This is likened to a father who tests his son and from his great love for the son reveals the answers – and rewards the son as if he had succeeded in the test on his own.
In our days when there are many troubles from within and without there is no other way of keeping out troubles and difficulties, except by strengthening our trait of kindness.
The leader of
'And now, when the strict Judgment (troubles and suffering) have increased greatly in the world and there is no advice for saving oneself from the troubles that occur daily – how much must we strengthen ourselves in the trait of kindness, so that the trait of kindness Above is aroused thereby and the verse 'And I will be betrothed to you through justice and law, kindness and mercy' will be fulfilled in us.
Likewise in our days – as it says in the Gemara, 'What should a person do to be saved from the pangs preceding the coming of the Mesiah? He should deal in Torah and kindness. And there is no refuge from distress other than deeds of kindness!'
He who acts grudgingly towards others and abstains from charity and kindness – a curse will prevail upon his property
Our Sages have also said (Erchin) that afflictions come due to seven things – and one of them is "narrow eyes" (that one begrudges others and does not let others benefit from his possessions), as it says, 'And the one who owns the house comes and tells the Priest….there is disease seen on the walls of my home.' Rabbi Yishmael explains, 'That is the one who keeps his home to himself (i.e. – 'does not let others benefit from his possessions' – Rashi). We know that because of the leprosy on the walls the house had to be eventually destroyed (because according to Jewish law, a home wherein the leprosy disease has spread must be destroyed), as it says, "And the house and its stones and trees are shattered…."
Consequently in our days, even though G-d in His kindness does not want to send leprosy onto the houses, a curse is nevertheless sent upon one's possessions and they are reduced to nothing by this trait, as it says in the Medrash cited above. This occurs because from Heaven he is treated in the trait that he uses; because he begrudged others and did not want to perform any kindness and mercy with his friend, to let others benefit from his possessions – therefore the trait of total stringent Judgment prevails upon his possessions as well, without any kindness therein, and consequently his house must be destroyed thereby.
As we know, the world cannot exist only with strict Judgment and it says in the Psikta:
'There was once a man who had many possessions, and he was bad and never gave charity. One day he went mad and took fire and burned down his houses; he took his silver and gold and threw them into the sea; he took an axe and broke the barrels of drinks that he had. What caused all this to happen to him? Because he didn't honor G-d when he had his money and property. And thus various troubles are caused to a stingy and begrudging person, because he didn’t want to perform kindness and charity with his money.
He who has not merited to have children should perform deeds of kindness and with g-d's help he will be redeemed with wise sons
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levy said, 'He who is used to giving charity merits having sons who are wise, wealthy and knowledgeable in Agaddah.' (Baba
The Chofetz Chaim writes:
'I don't understand the people who look for 'merit's to have children and spend treasures of money; there are those who spend hundreds and thousands, each according to his wealth. It would be better for them to use a merit found in our Sages' words – to constantly deal in charity, help the poor as much as possible, and to be amongst those who cause others to do – which is greater than the ones who do good deeds themselves (both by helping the poor financially and by supporting Torah scholars and Yeshivas; because by this they will merit having children who are Torah scholars, as we will explain. Alternatively, they should open up a free-loan fund (with their money or by encouraging others to help them with this matter) and they should always be busy with it. For the main mitzvah is to always be busy with it, for a person to train his body in it, as the verse teaches us: 'He who pursues charity…'
And in this merit G-d will also deal with them with the trait of charity and kindness and He will fulfill their wishes in this matter, as our Sages have said (Baba Basra), 'For this he merits having sons…' And many people did so in our days and they succeeded thusly."
And (he should do so) even if, G-d forbid, from Heaven this door is closed to him in this matter (i.e. his life has gone by and he hasn't had children. If not, there's no proof that the door has been closed upon him because there are prayers that are immediately answered and there are prayers that are answered after several years, as our Sages have told us).
In any case, the mitzvahs that he did will not be lost and those will be his descendants, as our Sages have said, 'The descendants of the righteous are their good deeds', because those are the descendants of one's soul. On the other hand, if one spends his money wasting it on superficial 'merit's and methods that do not help or succeed, he uses up his strength for nothing. And the wise will take all this to heart."
"And whoever has mercy on other people – from Heaven they will have mercy on him." And see what was said about this – that one should pray to the One to whom the children belong. And our Sages words that "One who performs kindness – his prayers are heard" are well known.
One who performs charity and kindness – his prayers are heard, especially in the area of his livelihood
A person should also think – How can he turn to G-d and ask Him 'Place peace, good and blessing, charm and kindness and mercy upon us…' if he himself does not want to have mercy and do kindness to his friend? Indeed, all the requests that a person prays for to G-d, that He be good and kind to him – if he himself does not go in the way of kindness, the prayers will not be easily accepted by G-d, especially in the area of his livelihood for which a person always asks. A person knows that he is dependant only on the kindness of G-d, as we say in the prayers. 'He sustains life with kindness.'
But if a person always accustoms himself to this good trait, certainly his prayers before G-d will be accepted and He will fulfill his requests.
As our Sages have said (Medrash Socher Tov), 'He who performs acts of kindness will be told that his prayers are answered, as it says (Hoshea) 'Plant charity for yourselves, reap according to the kindness.' What does it say afterwards? 'And it is the time to pray to G-d' – for he prays to G-d and is answered and will be told that his prayers are heard.'
He who makes efforts to perform kindness, the creator finds money for him so that he can continue with his good deeds
Rabbi Yitzchok said, 'Why does it say (Mishlei) 'He who pursues charity and kindness will find life charity and honor'? Does it mean that he who pursues charity will find charity? That is not the explanation, rather: He who pursues charity – G-d will find money for him so that he can give charity with it (Baba
When a needy person comes to asks for charity and is answered negatively, in Heaven they say, 'Let us switch the wealthy man with the needy man.'
G-d gives you possessions. If you do charity with them, your possessions will stay with you. If a poor man comes and says, "Give me charity" and you don't give – you go take his place, 'because there will never be an end of poor people being within the land'.
And so did Channah say, 'Those who were satiated with bread will be paid (with bread)' (Shmuel A) – because they didn't want to give charity to the poor from what they had. Rabbi Yonasan says, 'He who performs a mitzvah when he is poor, in the end will do it in wealth; and he who cancels a mitzvah amidst wealth in the end will cancel it from poverty.' It says 'Open shall you open your hand' (Dvarim) – 'Give until you don't open your hand to take.'
'A person should not say – I will have less of my possessions if I give to the poor. A person should look at the course of the world and he will see that any thing from which one does not take away, has nothing added.
Hair of the head and beard that are cut – always grow. The eyebrows are never cut and they don't grow.
In our days when in many cases wealth does not last long, the only merit (to maintain it) is to perform acts of kindness.
It is known that due to our sins today riches are not given from Heaven for a long time, but only for several years (and sometimes even G-d forbid only for a few months) – because the changing wheel of fortune runs quickly, due to our sins – and there is practically not a wealthy man to be found who will be wealthy his entire life.
The reason for this has been explained by us elsewhere. Therefore, someone who is smart and understanding should know that while he has been deposited with money as a custodian of it, and it has been given in his possession, he should make sure to use it for charity and kindness and then it will be for his benefit; then the deposit will not be taken away from him and he will remain with his wealth, after he has acted properly with it.
And even if, G-d forbid, some sin causes his wealth to be taken away from him in his lifetime, as it was from his friend – in any case whatever he used for doing charity and kindness – that remains his.
He who does kindness for others merits all the blessings
"In addition, all the blessings written in the Torah occur particularly this way, as it says in Tana Dvei Eliyahu Rabba on the verse 'And all these blessings will come to you and will chase you because you listened to the voice of G-d your G-d' – "When will all these blessings be conferred upon you? If you listen to G-d's voice and go in His ways, the ways of Heaven. What are the ways of Heaven? 'Just as He is merciful and has mercy even upon the wicked, and accepts them in total repentance, and feeds and supports all creatures – so should you be merciful one to the other to support one another and have patience for one another nicely.' A different explanation: 'What are ways of Heaven? That He is compassionate and gives free gifts to those who know Him and to those who don't know Him. So, should you give free gifts to one another.' An additional explanation: 'What are the ways of Heaven? That he does much kindness and inclines tools of kindness (towards people) – so should you look kindly upon one another and be inclined towards good…'"
"From all this one can see the greatness of the trait of kindness. Fortunate is he who cleaves to it as it should be done, who merits that all his descendants will follow in his ways, as written above." (Ahavas Chesed)
When one does kindness for another – all the consequences of the good caused to his friend are calculated
Come let us see how great is the reward of the person who does kindness with his friend in some matter. All the results that come out of that act are considered as if he had done them. That includes countless types and we will explain them a little, to show the greatness of this subject.
As far as the recipient himself, if one did charity and kindness with some depressed person who was weak and thereby his health was strengthened – later on it is not only the benefit of the few coins that he gave that is calculated; the calculation is made as if he himself had revived him and returned his life to him.
Evidence of this is found in what our Sages said (Tanchuma Mishpatim): 'Rabbi Tanchuma began thus, 'He lends to G-d – the one who is compassionate to the poor, and He will pay him his reward.' 'He lends to G-d the one who is compassionate to the poor' means that it is as if he lends to G-d; 'and He will pay him his reward' – Rabbi Pinchas HaCohen bar Chama said, Rabbi Reuven said – What does 'He will pay him his reward' mean? Could it be that if he gave a penny to a poor man that G-d will repay him a penny? No, rather G-d said: The soul of the poor man was twitching from hunger. You gave him a penny and revived him. I say that I will repay you a soul for a soul. Tomorrow if your son or daughter become ill and their life is in danger, I will remember the mitzvah that you did with the poor man and I will save you from death. That is what is meant by 'He will pay him his reward' – I will pay you back a soul for a soul.
Included in this verse is another vital issue; it may often happen that he himself may need some favor and kindness and 'G-d will pay him his reward': If he usually has mercy on others and is compassionate towards them, a charming spirit will rest upon him as well and people will be good to him. But if the opposite, G-d forbid, is true – 'G-d will pay him his reward', as well. And that is what the verse writes, 'He loans to G-d he who is compassionate to the poor and He will pay him.'
That said above applies to doing kindness to a regular person, but one who helps a torah scholar – there is no end to his reward and in the future world he will merit to sit amongst torah scholars
All that we said applies even if he performs kindness to any Jew, but how much more so for a Torah scholar. If he lends or gives him any sum and thereby he can support himself – his merit is very great, for through him he will later be able to delve in Torah. And as we wrote above – all the actions that result from his deed are calculated to his credit and because of them he merits to sit in the Yeshiva in Heaven amongst Torah scholars in the Future.
As our Sages have said, Rabbi Yochanan said, 'Whoever fills up the supplies of a Torah scholar merits to sit in the Yeshiva in Heaven, as it says, (Koheles) 'For he who is in the shadow of wisdom will be in the shadow of wealth." ["Whoever fills up the supplies" = he who gives merchandise to a Torah scholar for him to earn money, "in the shadow of wealth" = in the realm of the wise one, the wealthy man will enter – because he (the wealthy) brings him benefit from his property. (Rashi). This does not only apply to supplies, this means in any manner in which he supports the Torah scholar; it is only (written so) because in the previous generations it was customary for people to give merchandise to a Torah scholar at cost price for him to sell and make a living thereby.]
And in Masechta Ksuvos the verse is brought "And you who cleave to G-d.. you all live today" – Can one cleave to the Divine Presence? Why, it says "…for G-d your G-d is a consuming fire"? Rather (the meaning is) – whoever marries his daughter to a Torah scholar and who makes business for Torah scholars (- deals with the money of Torah scholars in order to make money for them and they can be free to learn Torah – Rashi), and who brings benefit to Torah scholars from his property – the Torah considers as if he cleaves to the Divine Presence.