Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The conversation went like this:

Person A: Do you want to go sometimes for shabbos to help people who are disabled?
Person B: Um...not...really...
Person A: Oh, it's totally fine.
Person B: I'm sorry. I know it's horrible but chessed's not really my thing.

Person A then went on to explain that just because a person is either uncomfortable with or doesn't like doing things like Yachad, Camp Simcha, Kulanu, etc., it doesn't make her a terrible person. And just because other people are able to take advantage of those chessed opportunities doesn't make them ten times more amazing than someone who isn't able to for whatever reason. Chessed, Person A explained, comes in many different forms. Helping the disabled or the very sick is one form, but certainly not the only. Inviting a stranded friend for shabbos or yom tov is chessed. Brightening someone's day when he or she needs it is chessed. Listening to a friend in distress is chessed. Helping someone out in any time of need - be it a crisis or just something trivial - is chessed.

The idea that if you don't help out at the major chessed organizations you're suddenly a bad person is wrong. Yes, people who do chessed work like that are incredible and strong, but not everyone is able to work with disabled or sick people and that's okay, too. It doesn't make you terrible or horrible or awful or anything like that in the slightest. It doesn't make you second-class, either. You can be an unbelievably caring, kind, thoughtful person with excellent midot and yet not work for Camp Simcha or Hasc or Yachad. I don't want to belittle those who do such chessed because I have tremendous respect for them, but the attitude that you must work for those organizations in order to be an amazing, caring person is ridiculous. This is something I've been struggling with for my own self-image and I've finally come to terms with it. I used to think there was something wrong with me that I wasn't drawn to going to Yachad shabbatons in high school like the rest of my grade was or that I did not at all look forward to nursing home trips. But now I realize, perhaps that form of doing chessed is not my strength, but another form may be. And that's true for everyone.


M.R. said...

Huzzah for Person A!
Huzza for Person B, too, for having the guts to say no. And double Huzzah if B really believes A and the contents of this post :)

MordyS said...

Another form of chessed: Waking up at 3:36 a.m., throwing on clothes, jumping in your car, and heading to the firehouse for a false alarm. YEESH! (When you get out of bed, that's when you really know you're doing it l'shma!)