Are you so busy that sometimes you forget to do something important in your day? We’ve forgotten to feed the cat, take out the trash, run that errand, pick up the dry cleaning, or call back a friend. We’ve worked long hours that week, we’ve been so consumed with our job, or we’ve been so immersed in a task that we just never stepped away. Traditionally, there have been (and continue to be) Jews throughout the world who seek to fulfill the commandment to study words from Torah, even to the exclusion of many other activities.
Both lifestyles have their flaws, which is why the Chaffetz Chayim, a 19th century rabbi and teacher of Mussar, said: You occasionally see Jewish people learning as much Torah as they can. They value their time and do not waste any for fear they will not study as much as they should. But if they do not set aside part of their day to do acts of kindness, they are fools.*
Whether we are absorbed in the study of Torah or furthering our professional life, sometimes we need to schedule kindness into our day. Take pen to paper or thumb to iPhone and mark your calendar for reaching out to a sick friend, calling a lonely relative, or joining one of Temple Emanu-El’s many social action opportunities: volunteering on the third Saturday at the Community Assistance Center, tutoring during the week at Dunwoody Springs Elementary, tilling the soil in Garden Isaiah on Sunday mornings, or serving dinner to Mary Hall Freedom House or Zaban clients.
If you have any questions about these meaningful and impactful opportunities, please be in touch.
Don’t say you’ll do it after the busy season or that this week isn’t a good week to take a look. Mark your calendar today and schedule acts of kindness into your week. In the words of Hillel, “If not now, then when?”
May your commitment to this task grant you a deeper and more meaningful experience of this world, and may your actions build a stronger, more beautiful, and more peaceful community.
*Language adapted from the original masculine form. Chaffetz Chayyim, Michtivei ha-Chaffetz Chayyim he-Chadash, vol. 2, II, page 85; cited in Shapiro, Minyan, 127–28.
Lesson based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living Day 142