A Challenge

This time of year brings with it many contradictions. Outside the walls of our cozy homes the blustery wind blows the snow’s beautiful flakes. The giggles of children making snow angels or the swishing of cross country skies delight, while some slip and fall on the icy walks. We hear of large car pile ups or fatalities from icy roads. Visible from those same roads are the beautiful snow capped mountains and skiers enjoying the slopes. . .

As we partake of the blessings of good health, a job, the means for holiday shopping, even having people in our lives to buy for, we often encounter those on cold sidewalks who don’t even have homes. In our own communities we may know of lonely neighbors with less than robust paychecks and no close relatives. Alongside our amazing blessings are brothers and sisters with so many challenges. And we, too, have days of hardship when the sweetness of His grace seems so far away. We all know how it feels to be bathed in His love and how important to be reminded of it when we’re down.

We don’t observe Advent or the 12 Days of Christmas. But I’m offering up a challenge, not just for the 8 days of Chanukah:

Starting today, act with chesed to another. I can’t do justice to this word by merely defining it as loving kindness. “The world is built with chesed.” (Psalms 89:3) HaShem created us as a pure act of chesed for we had no merit and did not deserve it. It is doing for another with the purest of motives. It is living our lives built on loving others and showing it in our actions which reflect our spirits.

I encourage you to take this on as a personal challenge (but try not to have that be your motivation). The goal is to start to live in that space of thinking of another, what it is like to walk in his or her shoes. As we become more sensitized to what it feels like to love without strings attached, we get just a taste of what it might be like to love as deeply as does our Abba love us.

The pitfalls are doing it because it makes us feel good or hoping for something in return. The challenge is to not think of what you are doing as giving, but rather, to feel it as loving.

A smile, a helping hand, a warm meal, a phone call, a ride, a gift, a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, a hug, a song, a story, seeing another as beautiful, a knowing look, understanding, not judging, sharing a piece of your heart . . .

What if we just stayed in that space long after the holidays ended . . .

Shabbat shalom.

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