Facebook Post by Rabbi Perlin in the Time of Coronavirus (3/25/2020)

Wednesday Post 3/25/20:  Incredible Kindness

After I posted about not going to Wegman’s to Passover shop yesterday, a most wonderful and generous person sent me an email offering to go for me.  I was so very grateful for the thoughtfulness, but declined the offer.  I would feel awful if someone contracted the virus as a result of doing a mitzvah for me.  But, my heart is still touched by the incredible selflessness of the gesture.

We were sitting watching Acorn TV last night and the phone rang.  It was a call from the dean of our Los Angeles seminary checking on how Gary and I were doing.  I was touched beyond words at his thoughtfulness.  LA is much worse off than most places, and yet our new doctor in LA also reached out to check on us.  He is 3000 miles away and wanted to know how we were doing.  I can’t tell you how much that meant to us.

And the generosity of the heart abounds…

There is incredible kindness out there in our world right now.  People are taking the time to be there for one another in such loving ways.  Crises, like life, can bring out the best in some people, even as it brings out the worst in others.  And let’s face it, we only have to watch the news each day to see that some people can’t find decency and empathy even in the worst of circumstances.  But, today, I want to embrace the incredible kindness of others, all negativity aside.

Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness) is one of my all-time favorite Jewish values.  I used to teach my Bar and Bat Mitzvah students that it was better than Tzedakah (Charity), because it went beyond giving money.  Gemilut Chasadim is the giving of the self, of one’s precious time, of one’s talents, and one’s expenditure of energy.  We don’t just “put our right hand in,” as the  Hokey Pokey dance begins, we put our “whole beings” into the mitzvah/the good deed.  We see these acts of Gemilut Chasadim in the global public sphere from health care workers, caregivers, public servants, service professionals, grocery and pharmacy workers and the list goes on and on. And we see it in our own family and friend circles as friends call the elderly parents of friends, grocery shop for the elderly, or make a pact with another family to ensure safe connection.

We are not trapped in our isolation.  We have an opportunity to do God’s work in the real world each and every day, even during a pandemic.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, AT&T asked us to  “Reach out and touch someone.”  We may be social distancing and not touching with our hands, but there are so many other ways you can touch another person.  For this Wednesday, join me in performing just one act of Gemilut Chasadim – a selfless act for another human being.  On this rainy day, exercise your heart and allow the muscles to produce a selfless kindness.  You’ll be glad you did.