What is Chessed?


The word chesed means kindness or benevolence. It denotes the unbounded loving-kindness with which G‑d created the world and with which all of creation is permeated, as the verse states, "The world was built with chesed" (Psalms 89:3).

Kabbala explains that kindness was, in fact, the reason for the Creation. Since G‑d's "nature" is absolute benevolence and loving-kindness, He created the world so that He would have upon whom to bestow His kindness, as is written in Etz Chaim, "It is the nature of He who is good to do good."

Avrohom Ovinu, the patriarch Abraham was known to exemplify in the character trait of Chessed, kindness. At age 99, he was circumcised instead of recuperating at home, he was sitting outside looking for guests – totally giving.

Chessed – kindness comes in all forms

Human nature is to desire to be self-sufficient. Most of us are uncomfortable being takers and prefer earning our own keep. If, due to dire circumstances, we find ourselves on the receiving end, our reaction is generally one of mortification.

The Torah is acutely sensitive to the precarious dynamic between patrons and their beneficiaries. The Torah's word for the act of giving to the needy, tzedakah, although commonly translated as "charity," more accurately means "justice." G‑d selects certain people as agents to disburse His bounty to others. Thus, when we are in a position to assist someone else, we are not behaving altruistically by giving away something that is rightfully ours. Rather, we are doing justice, by dispensing the money that G‑d entrusted to us in the way that He desires.

Although we generally associate the mitzvah of tzedakah with giving money, the mitzvah encompasses all forms of kindness. Tzedakah can be as basic as offering someone a lift or shlepping a friend's heavy load. Tzedakah can also take forms that are more "spiritual" — cheering up a friend who is depressed, or sharing your knowledge or insights with another. Whatever form it takes, the Torah regards preserving the dignity and self-respect of the receiver as a cornerstone of tzedakah. Accordingly, the great codifier of Jewish law, Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135-1204) formulated a list of eight levels of giving, correlating to the degree to which the giver is sensitive to the needs and feelings of the recipient.

As mentioned above, Chessed , encapsulates all forms of kindness, from hospitality to charity to food banks and educational institutions in a non-judgmental way, in contrast to reward. It is all about behaving as a decent human being and sharing with another..
Chessed is not bound to time or location, to age or gender. Chessed can be given at any time.
Do an act of kindness and help make the world a better place.