The Power of Gemilut Chasadim

by Rachel Berkowitz and Naomi Scheinerman
written 12/23/98
page 2 of 6

In frustration, Sarah Siegel gave a huge, miserable sigh, pulled on her coat and hat, and rushed out of the house. She walked two blocks to the home of Rabbi Shapiro and knocked on the door. Rabbi Shapiro appeared at the door, smiled when she saw Sarah Siegel, and ushered her into the study. "How wonderful to see you this afternoon, but you don't look especially happy, " the rabbi observed. "What can I do for you?"

Sarah recounted what it was like in her house, and how the quarreling and crankiness had been going on for days. She explained how impatient and miserable she felt and how irritable her husband felt.

Rabbi Shapiro nodded her head in understanding. "The weather has made many people crank and irritable," she responded.

"However, the worse you feel, the nicer you should be to others. Our sages taught: The world is sustained by three things: Torah, Worship, and Gemilut Chasadim. Gemilut chasadim -- deeds of loving kindness -- are necessary especially when they seem impossible. That is when they are needed the most. Please return home and talk and act not the way you feel, but the way you should."

"That's easy for you to say, Rabbi," Sarah replied curtly, "You're obviously in a good mood today."

"Not at all, Sarah," Rabbi Shapiro replied and smiled broadly. "I'm merely following my own advice!" With that, she escorted Mrs. Siegel to the door and wished her well.

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