The Daily Blast

Rabbi Avrohom Adler
Executive Director
Strengthening Families

Rabbi Adler (Cleveland Chessed Center and JFSA) says that acts of kindness atone for our sins and is one way we emulate Hashem.

Daily Reading

Parshat Ki Tetzei: Rewarded In Kind

In 1964, Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson, two young astronomers, stumbled on the origins of the universe completely by accident. Sitting at their desks at Bell Labs, New Jersey,...

Read More

Daily Sources

שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק הָיָה מִשְּׁיָרֵי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, עַל שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים הָעוֹלָם עוֹמֵד, עַל הַתּוֹרָה וְעַל הָעֲבוֹדָה וְעַל גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים:
משנה אבות א׳:ב׳

Shimon the Righteous was accustomed to say: The world is based on three things – on the Torah, on the service of God, and upon acts of loving-kindness. 

-Pirkei Avot 1:2

וַיַּעֲבֹ֨ר יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו֮ וַיִּקְרָא֒ יְהֹוָ֣ה ׀ יְהֹוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל רַח֖וּם וְחַנּ֑וּן אֶ֥רֶךְ אַפַּ֖יִם וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד וֶאֱמֶֽת׃ נֹצֵ֥ר חֶ֙סֶד֙ לָאֲלָפִ֔ים נֹשֵׂ֥א עָוֺ֛ן וָפֶ֖שַׁע וְחַטָּאָ֑ה וְנַקֵּה֙ לֹ֣א יְנַקֶּ֔ה פֹּקֵ֣ד ׀ עֲוֺ֣ן אָב֗וֹת עַל־בָּנִים֙ וְעַל־בְּנֵ֣י בָנִ֔ים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁ֖ים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִֽים׃
שמות ל״ד:ו׳-ז׳

Hashem passed before him and proclaimed: a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin—yet not remitting all punishment, but visiting the iniquity of parents upon children and children’s children, upon the third and fourth generations.

-Exodus 34:6-7

אַבָּא שָׁאוּל אוֹמֵר: ״וְאַנְוֵהוּ״ — הֱוֵי דּוֹמֶה לוֹ, מָה הוּא חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם
שבת קל״ג ב:ו׳

Abba Shaul says: Ve’anveihu should be interpreted as if it were written in two words: Ani vaHu, me and God. Be similar, as it were, to God, the Almighty: Just as God is compassionate and merciful, so too should you be compassionate and merciful.

-Shabbat 133b:6

Daily Goals

Chessed Means Taking Action

Stretching ourselves in caring for each other is central to our spiritual job description.

In Pirkei Avot (2:1) we learn that: “The world stands on three things: on the Torah, on the service of God, and upon acts of loving kindness.” The fact that chessed is one of the three pillars on which the world stands underlines how very important this must be.

Chessed is a primary attribute of God. We can learn from God’s chessed that what we call loving kindness involves acts that sustain the other. In the Mussar view, there is little value in fostering unconditional good will in your heart and wishing someone well. You have to tap those feelings to reach out your hand with real sustenance to another, by way of money, time, love, empathy, service, an open ear, manual assistance, a letter written, a call made, and on and on. People can and do draw sustenance from many sources.

It is central to our spiritual job description to stretch ourselves to sustain each other, and the most important dimension of that behavior is bearing in your heart love for the very act of caring for the other. Done for any other motive and the act is not chesed and it does not sustain the world, which is the outer mandate of chesed, nor does it move us closer to realizing the very purpose of our souls, which is its inner mandate. But when we get it right, our perfected chesed makes us pious and righteous people (hence the linguistic relationship between chessed and Chasidim).

Focus inwardly and then ask of your heart: enter joyfully into the love of generously sustaining the other. Then put that spirit into action. The heart and the world are called to connection, linked by flowing loving kindness. Succeed there and your world will be totally transformed, within and without.

Today In Jewish History

13 Elul – Chief Rabbi of Baghdad – 1909

On this day in 1909, Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad passed away. R’ Yosef Chaim was better known by the title of his monumental work, the Ben Ish Chai. The Ben Ish Chai was the third generation of his family to serve as the Chief Rabbi of Baghdad.

The position of Chief Rabbi of Baghdad was a very significant one in the Jewish world because Baghdad used to be one of the most significant communities in the Jewish world. The community dated back to right before the destruction of the First Temple when Nebuchadnezzar took the aristocracy of Israel into captivity in Babylon in around 435 BCE. King Yehoachin, one of the exiles, built the great synagogue of Baghdad which would stand for nearly 2400 years. The community would continue to thrive through the first millennium when the Talmud would be written there. It would have its ups and downs during the second millennium. Under the Ottomans, the community would once again thrive, and it was during this time that the Ben Ish Chai was the Chief Rabbi. Alas, this would be the final apex for the community. When Iraq achieved its independence in 1932 initially things were okay for the Jews, but as Arab nationalism grew, and the tension in Israel increased, the situation deteriorated. In March of 1951, Operation Ezra and Nechemia airlifted some 121,000 jews, leaving behind less than 15,000. Today, there is not a single known jew left in Iraq.

Daily Quotes

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."

-Princess Diana

"My philosophy is that the most important aspect of any religion should be human kindness. And to try to ease the suffering of others. To try to bring light and love into the lives of mankind."

-Steven Seagal

"The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love."

-William Wordsworth

Share It!

Get The Daily Elul Challenge In Your Inbox