My Birthday Resolution: Habit of Kindness

A birthday is like a personal Yom Kippur, and a time for reflection and good resolutions.  My birthday is on the 9th day of the omer which is the day of "severity of severity"  (click here to learn more about sefiras haomer and how you can fulfill this easy mitzvah). 

Like everyone else I know, I have character flaws that keep popping up again and again.  My character flaws seem to revolve around "severity" and I've been reflecting on how I can incorporate a little bit more "kindness" into my life.

It really got me thinking about the Rebbe's mitzvah campaign of tzedakah.  Obviously, tzedakah was a mitzvah before his campaign, but the Rebbe had a unique angle:  

  1. Everyone should have a pushka (charity box) in their home and office
  2. It shouldn't have an organization's name on it
  3. Best if it's attached to the wall 
  4. It's not about how much you give, rather the habit of giving
  5. You should give at least once every day, especially before praying and double on Friday

I never really thought that this campaign has much to do with us, because Natanya and I tithe (we give 20% of our net income to charity) and what could be so important about another 25 cents a day?! 

However, a few weeks ago, the light bulb went off.  The point of this campaign is not about which organization is being supported, and it's not about the sum total of the support.  The purpose of the Rebbe's tzedakah campaign is to instill kindness in the giver!  The tithing that Natanya and I give is a "religious commitment" with an ulterior motive (the talmud guarantees "wealth" to those who tithe, and we have seen this materialize).  However, putting a few coins every day into a pushka, especially before davening trains us to think about other people and take a concrete action for them.

My resolution for this year is to give tzedakah into a pushka every weekday before I pray and extra on Friday (to cover for Shabbos).

When you give tzedakah, you are allowed to give with a specific request.  My request from Hashem with this resolution is that He help me in my journey of becoming more kind, compassionate and accepting, qualities that are really important for a rabbi and really all humans.


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