When Others Cry

When Others Cry

The volume of their silence pieces the heavens,

shaking the foundation of human sensitivity.

The volume of their silence fills every home and public building;

it cannot be lowered, it must either be accepted or denied altogether –

there is no midway point.

They shout their pain silently, from every crack on the pavement –

And thereby raise the question of all questions:

What is Man?

Man has the ability to create himself through them,

or despite them,

to remain something less than man.

They are the strongest  of the strong,

the greatest force of humanity,

literally defining human courage.

Yet they may die quickly, without or continuing indulgence.

The daily tears and simple tasks of the poor, the weak and the hurt

are elements from which we understand the true definition of what we are

and what we may become.

A tomorrow is ours, as we see our own mortality through them –

and thereby the eternal of life.

—————– Excerpt from From Me to My Children by Ricky Cohen

Hesed, is defined by the Rambam (Maimonides) as an act of “unexpected or unrequited giving”,

i.e. something way beyond what would be expected of someone in a particular situation. The context of his words suggest that hesed is not simply a misvah (commandment) it is something more.

“…The daily tears and simple tasks of the poor, the weak and the hurt

are elements from which we understand the true definition of what we are

and what we may become.”

Hesed should form the foundation of every thought, word and action, be the process we use to achieve what we want, and the end result of each of our efforts.

It is how you think, smile, cry, sigh,rebuke, fail and succeed.

Hesed is the mindset with which we live our lives.

It is what defines you; it is how you become you.

How is this achieved?

One suggestion is the following: We started a family tradition a number of years ago when the children were young. We would go around the table every lel Shabbat (Friday night), and have each person describe an “outstanding act of kindness” he or she did that week. Everyone, including grandpa and grandma and mom and dad, had to mention something, and the action had to be well beyond that of an expected gesture of giving. Helping an elderly person cross a street, for example, was acknowledged didn’t pass the test as being outstanding.

The first few weeks were challenging – for us adults and for the children. Over time it became easy; the acts of kindness became more and more creative and courageous; truly outstanding. And to everyone’s surprise and delight, within a few months each person’s one outstanding act of kindness per week became several. Over the years a perspective was built within the family that hesed is what defines you. It was hard wired into each family member that it must be top of mind, gutsy and constantly renewed.

So this Shabbat discuss with your children the scores of community hesed events that go on each week throughout the year and particularly throughout the summer, challenge each other to articulate an outstanding act of kindness, (see a tool we attached that may help “outstanding acts of kindness” become a daily reality) and begin to shape your children as future hesed superstars.

Warmest regards and Shabbat Shalom,


Outstanding Acts of Kindness


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