Please watch Rabbi Yanklowtiz’s 3-minute video:
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz asks us to embrace two fundamental aspects of Judaism – tzedek and chesed – and, like Abraham, be an ambassador for kindness, love, and justice in the world.
Tzedek refers to the value of social justice. It represents our active role in creating a more just world. Chesed is performing a one-time act of kindness or generosity. It refers to reaching out to someone in the moment, without any agenda other than to demonstrate kindness – to share love in that moment.
Rabbi Yanklowitz notes that we can learn much about kindness and generosity from Abraham, as he is the perfect role model for both tzedek and chesed. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah illustrates Abraham's role as an ambassador for social justice (tzedek), as he challenges even God because he is not willing to see the innocent destroyed along with the wicked. Abraham also serves as a model of kindness and generosity (chesed) as he stands at the door of his tent, waiting for strangers who are hungry and in need of shade, which he can give to them in that moment.
From the Book of Psalms, we learn that “The world is build on kindness.” In an existential sense, we validate our very existence in this world when we perform an act of kindness. Rabbi Yanklowitz observes, “We do not lose when we give. Kindness is like a flame. When we share our flame it is not diminished, it spreads. When we stay alone with our flame, it eventually burns out.”
Here are some specific ways in which you can be like Abraham, spreading the flame of kindness and generosity and becoming a role model for chesed:
Rabbi Yanklowitz reminds us, “In a dark world, we spread light. Whenever we find opportunities to spread kindness and generosity, we run like Abraham at the opportunity to heal the world and to heal individual souls.”