Chesed

 

Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 49B

Translation Original
Our Sages taught: Gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness) is greater than tzedakah in three ways: Acts of tzedakah involve only one’s money – gemilut chasadim can involve both money or one’s personal service. Tzedakah can be given only to the poor – gemilut chasadim can be done both for the rich and for the poor. Tzedakah can be given only to the living – gemilut chasadim can be done both for the living and the dead. [AJWS translation]
תנו רבנן: בשלשה דברים גדולה גמילות חסדים יותר מן הצדקה, צדקה - בממונו, גמילות חסדים - בין בגופו בין בממונו. צדקה - לעניים, גמילות חסדים - בין לעניים בין לעשירים. צדקה - לחיים, גמילות חסדים - בין לחיים בין למתים.

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. In what ways can acts of lovingkindness be done for the wealthy?
2. How can we add lovingkindness to our tzedakah?
3. How can we add lovingkindness to our foreign assistance policies? to our domestic policies?


Isaiah 16:5

Translation Original
And a throne shall be established in goodness in the tent of David, and on it shall sit in faithfulness a ruler devoted to justice and zealous for equity. [JPS translation]
וְהוּכַן בַּחֶסֶד כִּסֵּא וְיָשַׁב עָלָיו בֶּאֱמֶת בְּאֹהֶל דָּוִד שֹׁפֵט וְדֹרֵשׁ מִשְׁפָּט וּמְהִר צֶדֶק:

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Who are the players in this text – seen and unseen?
2. There is a vision here of a leader committed to justice and equity. In what ways are our leaders already doing this? In what ways are improvements still needed?


Psalms 9:9-10

Translation Original
It is He who judges the world with righteousness, rules the peoples with equity. The LORD is a haven for the oppressed, a haven in times of trouble. [JPS translation]
וְהוּא יִשְׁפֹּט תֵּבֵל בְּצֶדֶק יָדִין לְאֻמִּים בְּמֵישָׁרִים: וִיהִי ה' מִשְׂגָּב לַדָּךְ מִשְׂגָּב לְעִתּוֹת בַּצָּרָה:

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Who are the players in this text – seen and unseen?
2. What power dynamics are at play?
3. What social justice themes emerge from this text?


Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 79a

Translation Original
And he said, there are three traits in this nation [Israel]: those who are compassionate, those who are timid and those who perform acts of lovingkindness. [AJWS translation]
אמר, שלשה סימנים יש באומה זו: הרחמנים, והביישנין, וגומלי חסדים.

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. According to this text, every person has at least one of the above traits. Which do you have - and when?
2. What is the relationship between timidness and action?


Mishna, Pirkei Avot 1:2

Translation Original
Shimon the Righteous was a member of the Great Assembly. He used to say, "By three things the world exists: On the Torah, on worship and on acts of loving kindness." [Soncino translation]
שמעון הצדיק היה משירי כנסת הגדולה הוא היה אומר על שלשה דברים העולם עומד על התורה ועל העבודה ועל גמילות חסדים:

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Who are the players in this text – seen and unseen?
2. What is an act of loving kindness? How is it unique compared to any good deed?
3. What social justice themes emerge from this text?


Mishna, Pe'ah 1:1

Translation Original
These are the things for which there is no measure: the corner of the field [which is left for the poor], the first-fruits offering, the pilgrimage, acts of lovingkindness, and Torah learning. These are the things for which a person reaps the fruits in this world and his reward is in the world to come: honoring father and mother, acts of lovingkindness, bringing peace between people and the study of Torah is equal to them all. [AJWS translation]
אלו דברים שאין להם שיעור הפאה והבכורים והראיון וגמילות חסדים ותלמוד תורה אלו דברים שאדם אוכל פירותיהן בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא כיבוד אב ואם וגמילות חסדים והבאת שלום בין אדם לחבירו ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם:

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Who are the players in this text – seen and unseen?
2. In what ways are these things not measurable?
3. How does a person reap benefits from these acts?


Genesis Rabbah 8:5

Translation Original
R. Simon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, ‘Let him be created,’ whilst others urged, ‘let him not be created.’ As it is written, "Lovingkindness and truth met, justice and peace kissed." (Psalms 85:11): Lovingkindness said, ‘Let him be created, because he will dispense acts of lovingkindness’; Truth said, ‘Let him not be created, because he full of lies’; Justice said, ' Let him be created, because he will perform acts of justice’; Peace said, ‘Let him not be created, because he is full of strife."’ What did God do? God held Truth and cast it to the ground, as it is written, "and truth will be sent to the earth." The ministering angels said before the Holy One, "Sovereign of the Universe! Why do you despise Thy seal? Let Truth arise from the earth!" Hence it is written, "Let truth spring up from the earth." (Psalms 85:12) All our Rabbis say the following in the name of R. Hanina, while R. Phinehas and R. Hilkiah say it in the name of R. Simon: Me'od (' very’) is [in reference to] Adam; as it is written, "And God saw everything that God had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:31), i.e. and behold Adam was good. R. Huna the Elder of Sepphoris, said: While the ministering angels were arguing with each other and disputing with each other, the Holy One created the first human. God said to them, "Why are you arguing. Man has already been made!" [AJWS translation]
א"ר סימון בשעה שבא הקב"ה לבראת את אדם הראשון, נעשו מלאכי השרת כיתים כיתים, וחבורות חבורות, מהם אומרים אל יברא, ומהם אומרים יברא, הה"ד (תהלים פה) חסד ואמת נפגשו צדק ושלום נשקו, חסד אומר יברא שהוא גומל חסדים, ואמת אומר אל יברא שכולו שקרים, צדק אומר יברא שהוא עושה צדקות, שלום אומר אל יברא דכוליה קטטה, מה עשה הקב"ה נטל אמת והשליכו לארץ הה"ד (דניאל ח) ותשלך אמת ארצה, אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב"ה רבון העולמים מה אתה מבזה תכסיס אלטיכסייה שלך, תעלה אמת מן הארץ, הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים פה) אמת מארץ תצמח, רבנן אמרי לה בשם ר' חנינא בר אידי ורבי פנחס ורבי חלקיה בשם רבי סימון אמר, מאד, הוא אדם, הה"ד וירא אלהים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד, והנה טוב אדם, ר' הונא רבה של צפורין אמר עד שמלאכי השרת מדיינין אלו עם אלו ומתעסקין אלו עם אלו בראו הקב"ה, אמר להן מה אתם מדיינין כבר נעשה אדם.

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Who are the players in this text – seen and unseen?
2. What power dynamics are at play?
3. The text calls on us to behave in certain ways that now that we've been created. What are those ways?


Deuteronomy Rabbah 5:1

Translation Original
R. Simeon b. Gamliel said: Do not make mock of justice, for it is one of the three legs upon which the world stands. Why? For the Sages have taught: On three things the world rests: on justice, on truth, and on peace. Know then full well that if you wrest judgment, you shake the world, for it is one of its pillars. [Soncino translation]
אמר רשב"ג אל תהי מלגלג בדין שהוא אחד משלשה רגלי העולם למה ששנו חכמים על שלשה דברים העולם עומד על הדין ועל האמת ועל השלום תן דעתך שאם הטיתה את הדין שאת מזעזע את העולם שהוא אחד מרגליו

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Who are the players in this text – seen and unseen?
2. How does an individual "wrest judgment"?
3. How does a society "wrest judgment"?