As we’ve mentioned previously, Shuls are essential for communal prayer, but their importance as an avenue for Chesed can not be overstated. Without getting into a discussion of the differences between Shuls and communities, it’s clear that much of the person-to-person caring occurs in the Shul setting. Although we lead busy lives, there are so many valuable opportunities to help our friends and develop deeper relationships with acquaintances.
Times of Need
The loss of a close relative is a very difficult time and showing we care by paying a Shiva visit, cooking or helping to make a minyan means a lot to the mourner. We don’t have to be close friends and the person will be thankful for a lifetime.
When someone’s sick, receiving calls and visitors means a lot, as this chesed is usually taken on by a smaller portion of the Shul. It’s generally a good idea to call ahead to see if the person is up to visitors.
Joyful times are even better when they are shared. When we’re invited to a wedding, it’s a good practice to make every effort to attend at least a part of it. Sometimes we make calculations of why we were invited, or that it’s not really necessary to go, but a good rule of thumb is to assume the person invited us because they wanted us to be there.
The birth of a baby is also an opportunity to show we care. Coming out on a Friday night for the Shalom Zucher means a lot to the family and it’s a time where our only obstacle is usually the inviting couch or bed. When we’re uncomfortable sitting for the meal, we can still daven at the Shul and watch the Bris itself.
Advice, Jobs, Shidduchim
Giving advice is another great way of connecting to our co-members. Whether it’s a plumber, a doctor, or a school, your opinion is valuable. If you have expertise in a subject, it’s even better.
Helping someone find a job or a shidduch are two of the greatest cheseds we can perform. Keeping our ears open and emailing or phoning any lead is really all that’s required. We sometimes refrain from getting involved because of the infrequency of success in these areas, but the person is thankful regardless of the results as our efforts demonstrate that we care.
Just Plain Shmoozing
Shmoozing is one of the most underestimated Chassadim. Our weeks are filled with work and obligations and asking someone how they’re doing and sharing a good word on Shabbos restores the equilibrium that we all need. This is one area where it’s helpful to break out of our comfort zones and reach out to people with whom we’re not so close. Not everybody has the same social circles, but everybody does have the need to feel recognized and cared about. It takes just a few seconds and it means a lot to most people.
Shuls are fountains of kindness and we can all drink and contribute to the flow.
Originally Published Jan 17, 2012