Chesed – Changing the World (2003)

by | Oct 30, 2006 | 0 comments

For one hundred and twenty years Noach prophesied the end of the world – yet not even one single Baal Teshuvah!

Noach spent 120 years building an ark, deliberately stretching it out so that people would ask questions, hear about the oncoming world crisis and repent.

For one hundred and twenty years Noach prophesied the end of the world – yet not even one single Baal Teshuvah!

Avrohom, a man in his fifties, walked the world and talked to people about G-d. Millions of people reportedly changed their ways, beliefs and lifestyles to comply with G-dliness.

They both spoke of G-d, they both philosophized with the people, and they both were sincere. Why was Avrohom so successful, and Noach such a dismal failure?

There was only one difference between Noach and Avrohom. Abraham devoted his life to kindness: “Chesed LeAvrohom”. His tent was always open on four sides. Everyone felt comfortable in his home. He gave of himself to others. Noach, on the other hand, protected himself from the corruption of society. His home remained pure and pristine, but his world became defiled. Their philosophical arguments may have been equally powerful, but it was Avrohom's acts of kindness that changed the world.

We don't realize how powerful kindness is. An act of chesed can change the world! There are times that G-d judges us with the attribute of justice. He scrutinizes us and puts our people under the microscope. The Talmud teaches us that when there is war, sickness, poverty and unrest in the world, “know that we are being judged with midas hadin.” How can we change the mode of judgment? How can we get G-d to judge us with chesed? There is only one answer – by doing chesed. G-d takes His cues from us.

During these trying times for Israel and for so many individuals, more than anything else we need G-d's chesed. Noach focused on his own needs, Avrohom focused on other people's needs. Noach was right, but Avrohom was effective.

So often when husbands and wives, partners in business or entire communities fight – what fuels the fight is the need to be right. When we argue, we prepare complicated depositions explaining our point of view. Noach's method didn't work. Try Avrohom’s method! Pour your neighbor a cup of coffee, buy your wife some flowers, find someone a job – and you will change the world.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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