Shabbat Parashat Hayyei Sarah Hesed: Even Greater than Tzedakah Shabbat Mevarekhim HaHodesh

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us for Friday night and Shabbat morning services as we celebrate the bar and bat mitzvah of Jayden and Adyson Kaufman. Mazal Tov to Jayden and to Adyson, and to the entire family!

This week’s Torah portion, Hayyei Sarah, includes the remarkable story of Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, fulfilling the mission that Abraham entrusted to him: going back to Abraham’s family or origin and finding a suitable wife for Isaac from among the members of Abraham’s family of origin.

On the way, Eliezer prayed to God to help him succeed. In his prayer, Eliezer used the Hebrew word Hesed which has been translated into the English term “loving-kindness.”

In the Talmud (Sukkah 49b) we learn:

Hesed [loving-kindness] is greater than Tzedakah [charity] in three ways. Tzedakah is accomplished with one’s money, while Hesed may be accomplished with one’s person. Tzedakah is given only to the poor, while Hesed may be proffered to both the poor and to the wealthy. Tzedakah is given only to the living, while Hesed may be shown to the living and to the dead.”

In the words of the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, in his book “Essays on Ethics: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible”:

Hesed in its many forms became synonymous with Jewish life and one of the pillars on which it stood.”

This week, we celebrate Veteran’s Day. We thank our veterans for their service to our country. The expression of our thanks is one form of Hesed. We care. We are grateful. And, we show our gratitude and caring by sharing a kind word with others.

How many additional forms of Hesed can each one of us identify in our own lives and in the life of our Jewish Community? I would be glad to hear your thoughts on this subject.

This Shabbat we will also be reciting the blessing for the new Jewish month of Kislev. Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Monday night and Tuesday of this coming week. May it be a month of blessing, of healing, and of true Hesed.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror