Here’s this week’s Mitzvah of the Week*:
G’milut Chassadim – Give of your time: Engage in deeds of loving kindness and volunteer service.
This mitzvah comes from Deuteronomy 11:22: “If you faithfully keep all these mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) that I command you, loving Adonai your God, walking in all of God’s ways, and holding fast to God…” The text continues with listing the rewards to the nation.
The key phrase for our purposes is “walking in all of God’s ways”, which is interpreted to mean, imitating God. How do we imitate God? The Talmud teaches the following: these are the ways of the Holy One: “gracious and compassionate, patient, abounding in kindness and faithfulness…” The Talmud further teaches:
The Torah begins with deeds of lovingkindness and ends with deeds of lovingkindness…”And God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21, the beginning of Torah). It ends with deeds of lovingkindness: “And God buried Moses in the valley in the land of Moav (the end of the Torah).” (Deuteronomy 34:6).
Performing acts of lovingkindness is an easy mitzvah to perform. Opportunities abound for us. The discussion about the Smile card we distributed on Rosh Hashanah is a good place to start. What simple acts of lovingkindness can you perform this week? A card to a sick friend? A visit to an lonely elderly person? Speaking to someone at services or sitting next to them so they won’t be alone? You get the idea – not only is this simple but it should be part of our regular way of living Jewishly!
May you have a week surrounded by acts of lovingkindness and a Shabbat of Peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel
*The “mitzvah card” comes from the packet of Mitzvah Cards, produced by Reclaiming Judaism (www.reclaimingjudaism.org) Each week, our oldest students in the Amirim class – bar/bat mitzvah and pre-bar/bat mitzvah – pick a card for Emeth’s Mitzvah of the Week.