“Cultivating compassion and empathy is at the very heart of Judaism’s vision of a spiritual life. To take Judaism seriously is to commit to growing kinder, to showing up, and being present with people during moments of pain and suffering.”
The world is and has always been a place of great beauty and painful, dark, troubling events. Looking back at this past year, in particular, the flow of suffering seems to be a rising tide. We see and feel deeply the magnitude of crisis and tragedy and pain, both global and intensely personal – the thousands dead of Ebola, the protests of Ferguson and beyond, the victims of Har Nof. And now Paris.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed, to protect yourself from deep fear by distancing yourself, to go numb.
Today we celebrate the legacy of a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who responded to the overwhelming world of his day by meeting it head on, with dignity and steadfast acts, but always always with great compassion. It seems as good a time as any to offer you the thoughts of Rabbi Shai Held, speaking on chesed (sometimes translated as compassion, sometimes as kindness) as the ultimate underpinning of a Jewish life. No chesed, no Judaism.
He challenges us: Run towards that which scares you. Learn to see what others look past.
How will you take this conversation into your communities? Ask: are we instilling a commitment to kindness? Are we instilling the belief that chesed is integral to everything we do and are? How do we manifest that in our actions?
Tell us – what will you do in the name of chesed? Will you share this video? With whom, and why? How can you massage the heart of your community to commit to growing kinder?