No Kindness Too Small
Rabbi Shalom Hammer tragically lost his 19-year-old daughter Gila to suicide. This week, he shared his story in a very sad and thought-provoking talk addressing suicide and mental health awareness. Later that night as I lay awake, I could not get one story out of my mind:
Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 2000 - and is one of the few to have survived to tell the story. Standing on the bridge sobbing he made a pact with himself. If just one person asked him if he was okay, he would confess and beg for help. Many people walked past when finally, a tourist spotted him while he was sobbing. Instead of checking in, she asked him to take a photo. He jumped a moment later. In the four seconds of his terrifying descent, he instantly realized he actually wanted to live.
In this week’s Torah Portion Vayishlach, we read the dramatic story of Jacob and his family being reunited with Eisav. Rachel and Leah are walking with their kids following, when little Joseph steps in front of his mother to protect her when he understands there is danger, despite being much smaller in size than Eisav.
Like Joseph, we often confront situations that seem overwhelming or beyond our ability to change. There are times when we may feel powerless to completely change a situation, but in most cases, there is something that can still be done.
We may not realize the power of a smile or a caring message. Giving a small amount of charity may not be enough to change a situation but there is value in the effort.
We can show our generosity through words, money, time, things, influence, and attention.
Experts say that kindness is one of the main features of intelligence. Neurobiologist Richard Davidson says: "the foundation of a healthy brain is kindness." He explains that kindness requires the ability to think not only about ourselves but also about others.
In our own lives, we can all emulate Joseph and realize that there is always a value in giving, no matter how small the gesture is.