Lovingkindness - G'milut Chasadim


  • Does our motivation for doing acts of kindness matter?
  • Is it necessary that kindness be repaid?
  • When have you been the recipient or giver of Chesed? What was the experience like? What do you now know about the power of Chesed?


(ב) שִׁמְעוֹן הַצַּדִּיק... הָיָה אוֹמֵר, עַל שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים הָעוֹלָם עוֹמֵד, עַל הַתּוֹרָה וְעַל הָעֲבוֹדָה וְעַל גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים:

(2) Shimon the Righteous... used to say: the world stands upon three things: the Torah, the Temple service, and the practice of acts of lovingkindness.


  • What does it mean to you that the world “stands” on G'milut Chasadim?
  • Why do you think Shimon the Righteous chose these three elements?
  • Do you agree with this statement? What three values would you place on this list?

אלא להלך אחר מדותיו של הקב"ה מה הוא מלביש ערומים דכתיב (בראשית ג, כא) ויעש ה' אלקים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות עור וילבישם אף אתה הלבש ערומים הקב"ה ביקר חולים דכתיב (בראשית יח, א) וירא אליו ה' באלוני ממרא אף אתה בקר חולים הקב"ה ניחם אבלים דכתיב (בראשית כה, יא) ויהי אחרי מות אברהם ויברך אלקים את יצחק בנו אף אתה נחם אבלים הקב"ה קבר מתים דכתיב (דברים לד, ו) ויקבר אותו בגיא אף אתה קבור מתים

He explains: Rather, the meaning is that one should follow the attributes of the Holy One, Blessed be He. He provides several examples. Just as God clothes the naked, as it is written: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21), so too, should you clothe the naked. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, visits the sick, [such as] with regard to God’s appearing to Abraham following his circumcision... so too, should you visit the sick. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, consoles mourners, as it is written: “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son” so too, should you console mourners. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, buried the dead, as it is written: “And he [Moses] was buried in the valley in the land of Moab” (Deuteronomy 34:6), so too, should you bury the dead.


  • What do you think it means to imitate God in this text?
  • Look at the examples of Chesed performed by God. Why do you think the Sages chose these particular examples of Chesed? What do they tell us about what Chesed is?
  • Do you think we are capable of imitating God in this capacity? Are you?


(א) מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם לְבַקֵּר חוֹלִים. וּלְנַחֵם אֲבֵלִים. וּלְהוֹצִיא הַמֵּת. וּלְהַכְנִיס הַכַּלָּה. וּלְלַוּוֹת הָאוֹרְחִים... וְכֵן לְשַׂמֵּחַ הַכַּלָּה וְהֶחָתָן. וּלְסַעֲדָם בְּכָל צָרְכֵיהֶם. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים... הֲרֵי הֵן בִּכְלַל (ויקרא יט יח) "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ". כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹצֶה שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ אוֹתָם לְךָ אֲחֵרִים. עֲשֵׂה אַתָּה אוֹתָן לְאָחִיךְ

(1) It is a rabbinic positive precept to visit the sick, comfort the mourners, escort the dead, dower the bride, accompany the [departing] guests — — as well as to cheer the bride and the groom, and to assist them in whatever they need. These are acts of lovingkindness... they are implied in the biblical verse: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18); that is, whatever you would have others do to you, do to your fellow


  • What examples of Chesed does Maimonides use here?
  • Are there other acts of Chesed you would have included in this list?
  • Do you expect others to ‘return the favor’ when you perform an act of Chesed?
  • Do you think that the expectation of a reward detracts from the performance of the kind deed?

אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶן בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְהַקֶּרֶן קַיֶּמֶת לוֹ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם, וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, וַהֲבָאַת שָׁלוֹם בֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ.

The following are the things for which a person enjoys the fruits in this world while the principal [reward] remains for him in the world to come: Honoring one’s father and mother; The performance of righteous deeds; And the making of peace between a person and his friend


  • What might the reward for Chesed look like ‘in this world?’ What about ‘in the world to come?’
  • Why do you think these three precepts receive a double reward?
  • Do you think it is right to expect a reward for acts of Chesed?

(ט) וְיָ֣דַעְתָּ֔ כִּֽי־ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ ה֣וּא הָֽאֱלֹקִ֑ים הָאֵל֙ הַֽנֶּאֱמָ֔ן שֹׁמֵ֧ר הַבְּרִ֣ית וְהַחֶ֗סֶד לְאֹהֲבָ֛יו וּלְשֹׁמְרֵ֥י מצותו [מִצְוֺתָ֖יו] לְאֶ֥לֶף דּֽוֹר׃

(9) Know, therefore, that only the LORD your God is God, the steadfast God who keeps His covenant of kindness faithfully to the thousandth generation of those who love Him and keep His commandments


  • Is there a difference in value in performing an act of Chesed for someone we know or a stranger?
  • Have you been in a situation where it was harder or easier to perform an act of Chesed? Did you feel that your relationship with the recipient made a difference?


  • The video suggests that even a small good deed can have a significant impact on the recipient Do you agree with this message?
  • What types of good deeds are presented in the video? What is the ‘reward’ for this type of Chesed?
  • How do you feel watching the video?
  • Have you ever received a kindness that inspired you to ‘pay it forward?’


  • In this story, Joey insists that humans are incapable of a truly altruistic act. Do you agree?
  • Does feeling good for performing an act of Chesed detract from the value of the act?


  • Based on your learning about Chesed, who do you think is gaining from the Chesed going on?
  • What might the sources you learnt (or the people quoted in them) challenge your motivations for what you are doing?
  • What do you now know about Chesed that you did not know before?
  • How do you plan to incorporate Chesed into your philanthropy practices?