Director of Communications, World Mizrachi
Mizrachi has always placed great significance on chesed, acts of kindness. We strive to live lives that combine Torah learning with active contribution to the Jewish people and society.
In his book, To Heal A Fractured World, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explores the traditional Jewish values that teach us the responsibility we have for our fellow human beings. His aim is to heighten awareness about Jewish responsibility and so encourage more acts of charity and kindness.
He writes: “We do not have to redeem the world all together in one go. We do it one day at a time, one person at a time, one act at a time. A single life, said the sages, is like a universe. Save a life and you save a world. Change a life and you begin to change the world.”
The laws of kashrut, which are detailed in Parashat Shemini, offer a message that underlines the importance of chesed.
The stork is called chasidah, which means ‘devoted’. It is also connected to the word chesed. The stork isn’t a kosher bird. Why would a bird with such a beautiful name not be kosher? The Gemara explains that the stork got its name because it acts with kindness, chesed, towards its friends.
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, known as the Chidushei HaRim, is considered to be the first Rebbe of Ger. He concluded that there must be some fundamental flaw in the stork’s chesed. The stork, says Rabbi Alter, limits its chesed to its fellow birds, rather than performing acts of kindness to all of God’s creatures. For this reason, it is not a kosher bird, because this type of chesed is not a kosher value.
To live a kosher life is to show kindness to everyone and to everything. Our task is to reach out with kindness to those in need wherever they may be, and whoever they may be.