Monday, April 26, 2010

As our world is today, it's probably safe to say that every person (over the age of 3) is knowledgeable in environmental matters. "Green" used to be just a color. Now, it has a completely new identity. Those 5 letters have become a world of their own. One little word has changed our world.

Our environment is in danger and it's our job to stop it. We purchase recycling bags so that we don't use plastic bags. A special effort is made to put newspapers, catalogs, water bottles and most of our trash in separate bins. We are careful what we buy, how much water we use and what we throw out. We are informed, aware and we care. Each one of us is taking responsibility to do our job so that we can make a difference in the world. All we need to do is take that one small step.

One of the "green" websites says, "A small step can make a big difference. Everyone can help change the world, one step at a time." And of course, we all know the most famous "small step" quote of all time which was stated by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong as he landed on the moon. What he said was, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind." NASA soon reported that the quote should have been, "That's one small step for A man; one giant leap for mankind." What's the difference if the A is missing? The quote was meant to link the small action of one man with a monumental achievement for all of humanity ( "A" man; just one man- made such a difference in the world. Considering the emotion he experienced at that moment, it's amazing he was able to speak at all. Everyone knew what he meant. We shared the excitement of the moment as if that was our foot stepping out of the spacecraft onto the moon. One man took one small step that impacted us all. That one small step represented a new future for our world. Everything changed from that point forward.

What's the value of one small step? One small step can change the world. That one little action makes a huge difference. Today we are taking action to protect our environment so that we can save the world. But, are we taking enough action for our personal environment? It's time to examine our spiritual ecology; the spiritual environment that surrounds us. Our next job is to take those small steps towards our spiritual world; to keep it pure and clean. That one little word -GREEN- that has made us knowledgeable and aware to care for our physical world- now has a spiritual partner- that also makes us knowledgeable and aware to care for our spiritual world- MUSSAR. It's one little word that can change our world.

If that one small step- something as huge as stepping on the moon or as small as recycling our trash- has such an impact on our world, just imagine the impact of "loving the act of kindness and then acting with loving kindness" has on our world.

It is something beyond our comprehension. Each one of us can make a huge difference in this world simply by acting with kindness towards others. If we go out of our way to recycle our trash, can't we take a moment to go out of our way to be kind? One small moment can have such a lasting impact.

Text: Rivka at the well (Genesis 24:18-20)
The Torah introduces us to Rivka when Eliezer, Abraham's servant arrived in Haran to find a suitable wife for Yitzchak. He finds Rivka at the well. Eliezer asks her for a little sip of water to drink. She "quickly lowered her jug and gave him water to drink. When she finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will also draw water for your camels until they have finished drinking."

From this small act of kindness, Eliezer chose Rivka to be Yitzchak's wife. The kindness she performed was unnecessary. Yet, she delighted in the kindness and did it with joy. She had no idea of the greatness of this small act. Nor did she have any idea of the future merit it would bring her. She became the wife of Yitzchak, the spiritual and physical heir of Abraham. Even more, she is one of the Matriarchs of Israel in the eternal World to Come. All because she performed one small act of kindness with joy. She took that one small step to get water for the camels. She took one unnecessary step without any knowledge of what would come from it. From that one act of kindness she received countless blessings. And her life continued on that path.

One small step that one woman took- changed our entire world.

Go for the small act which may have profound implications.
If it's done with joy and delight- no act is small.

AVODAH/TIKKUN: (daily practical application)
Chazal say, "Whoever rejects the path of kindness- will ultimately deny Hashem."
If we are not kind, we can't recognize the kindness of others. If someone does something kind for you, do you appreciate and value it or expect it as part of their role in the relationship? As Abraham was, the kinder we are- the more we are able to experience the endless dimensions of Hashem's kindness, compassion and love for us. Abraham's chesed (kindness) was a reflection and an expression of Hashem's chesed.

In order for us to see the countless blessings of kindness that Hashem showers upon us everyday (that go completely unnoticed), we have to practice showering kindness upon others. Let's not take it for granted and expect it as part of the relationship.

1) Focus on and perform one act of kindness- no matter how small. Remove the callousness and release the bars on your heart. Experience the joy of giving.
2) Get in touch with the kindness within you.
3) Realize that you are acting according to your essence when you perform acts of kindness.
There is no greater happiness than that.
4) Recognize Hashem as the Source of All kindness. Meditate each day on the kindness that Hashem is showering on you.

A story that was heard in a vaad:
A woman was visiting a neighbor whose wife had recently passed away. She asked the gentleman how he was doing. He answered, "I feel like I didn't do enough for her." The kind neighbor reminded him of how lovingly he cared for her during her illness. He said, "Maybe during her illness, but what about all the years before." The woman sat there speechless. Then, he said, "I didn't love her enough."

It's a sad and moving story. It reminds us to be kinder to the ones we love.
Just one small act performed with joy.

May Hashem bless us with an open heart to perform small acts of kindness with joy.
Blessings for a beautiful week.

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