Kindness, by Sarah Ghosh
A blanket full of loving kindness,
Spreading a cottony lattice of pure softness over my other.
Infinite love flowing from soul to soul,
Droplets thread and knot to form a bond,
We are Connected.
Our Va’ad of three years recently studied Kindness (Tomer Devorah, Middah Six). After much discussion about whether kindness is innate or acquired, in the end, we were reminded that it is not for us to judge whether our other is kind at one particular moment, or in any moment, but simply connect.
If we allow our desire to be kind to show up and always be our guiding force, we have the capability to affect our other. Amanda Gorman (the first National Youth Poet Laureate) and the prophet Isaiah inspire us to be the ‘light unto the nation(s)’, and through kindness, we can weave an infinite web of good in the world.
When our Matzav Ruach (state of mind) is not in check, we devalue our other. At what point in our life do we have awareness of being unkind to a friend, family, or stranger? A child will look at a situation and know it’s good or bad. There is little gray area for a child, as the complex relationship does not take hold. When we mature, and begin to see the gray area, our emotions and thoughts become a manifestation of how we feel about ourselves and our relationships with our others. If we were to draw our Jewish soul on paper, what color, shape, and level of wellbeing would we incorporate into our drawing? How does how we feel about ourselves and our others also impact our inner equilibrium?
Our Va’ad, made up of a group of strong and insightful women, proposed that the best way to look for the path to kindness is to find your ‘Mussar role model.’ We need to ask, “what would that person do in this situation?” My Mussar role model is not Jewish, but has a Jewish Neshamah. She is calm, patient, kind, compassionate, and humble. I am inspired by her every day, and endeavor to slip into her shoes, connecting, as she would, with all my others. In order to grow kindness so it can become part of our Neshamah, the scholar Shammai reminds us to, “Greet every person cheerfully.” We endeavor to be more like Shammai — present and ready for our others.
Sarah Ghosh is a Mussar student with the Beth Tikvah B’nai Jeshurun (BTBJ) Va’ad, in Erdenheim, PA, taught by Hazzan Naomi Hirsch. She is the congregational learning chair at BTBJ.