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Today’s post is about doing nice things for other people, sometimes for people we don’t know and may never meet. The concept of doing random acts of kindness is one of my faves. One thing I like about it is that it helps me think about the needs of others outside my immediate circle.
A woman I know, when she finds a great parking spot (the ones I call “rock-star parking” because they’re so close to the store), leaves it for someone else, taking a different spot for herself. She says that every time she really needs a spot, she’s able to find one.
Another act of kindness I’ve heard about is paying for the order of the person behind you in line. This would apply more at a coffee shop than a grocery store (ha, wouldn’t that be nice!). Can you imagine the lift it must give to the person who gets an unexpected free coffee?
I have a friend who would frequently call me from the grocery store to see if I needed anything. It really impressed me that she thought of me, that I may need something. It inspired me to try and think of others on a more constant and practical basis.
One random act of kindness that I often practice is returning errant shopping carts. You know, the ones that are in the middle of the parking spot that you want? Those. If I’m on my way into the store, I’ll take that cart and use it for my shopping. If I’m on my way to my car, I’ll return the cart to the corral along with the cart I used. I do this even when I have my kids with me. I explain to them that we’re returning the cart because it’s a nice thing to do, and it will make someone happy.
I’ve gotten “caught” a few times by employees, and they usually look surprised, and then they thank me. Sometimes profusely. It’s no fun to have to fetch all those scattered carts. I know. I’ve been there.
Oftentimes, in today’s world, we are encouraged to say “what’s in it for me?” The Torah teaches us that we should think of things in terms of responsibility. What are we obligated to do? One mitzvah (obligation, in another word) is to emulate Hashem, who is constantly giving.
Acts of kindness, chesed, are one of the mitzvos where we are rewarded in both this world and the next (like my friend who’s always able to find a parking spot when she needs one). Each act of kindness that we do helps develop us into a kinder, more thoughtful person. When we give something to another person, we are stretching our giving muscles, making it that much easier to give the next time.
Being considerate of other people’s feelings is doing the mitzvah of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” one of the most fundamental mitzvos in the Torah. Don’t we always want our feelings to be considered? Doesn’t it rankle when we feel we are being mistreated? Usually. So it behooves us to try and think of others, even when it’s outside of our comfort zone.
This week, try and find an act of kindness to do which you haven’t done before. It could be making dinner for someone who’s moving, offering to watch your friends’ children for an hour, or visiting an elderly neighbor. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to help out, and go for it! Stretch those muscles.
What are some random acts of kindness you’ve performed, or have seen performed?
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