Beliefnet
Positive Judaism

Our world needs more unity and less division and caring parents and teachers are in a great place to guide the way. It’s our responsibility to develop the instincts for humanity in our young people and to help them develop authentic human connections and friendship in through three elements: Love, Kindness, and Social Intelligence.

#1 Love (Ahavah in Hebrew) is about valuing and caring relationships and the ability to share and to be in genuine relationship with others. Rabbi Akiva taught that “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” was the all-embracing principle in the Bible.

On the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” the Moses Maimonides taught that this is the basis for many of the rabbinic mitzvot such as visiting the sick, comforting mourners, caring for the dead, providing a dowry for the bride, escorting guests, performing burial rites, rejoicing with bride and groom and helping support them with necessary provisions ( Hilchot Avel 4:1).

#2 Kindness (chesed in Hebrew) is the ability to be compassionate, nurturing, caring, and generous with others. Great is the virtue of gemilut chasadim (love and kindness) because it is one of the thirteen attributes ascribed to God. As it is written: “Adonai, Adonai. . . long suffering and abundant in kindness (rav chesed).” -Exodus 34:6

#3 Social Intelligence (chochma chevrati in Hebrew) is the capability to effectively navigate and negotiate complex social relationships and environments and to have common sense. “The One Who had provided man with intelligence certainly expects that we use our (social) intelligence to legislate such basic laws without which life on earth would become intolerable, anarchic. We must view our common sense as a messenger from God, an instrument that acts as a protection against man experiencing all kinds of harm and problems in his life on earth. When man commits violence against his fellow man this reflects an absence of common sense. -Radak on Genesis 20:6:2

I believe each person was born with the characteristics for loving humanity but over time, our life experiences can teach us to be defensive and guarded. It’s never too late to open a heart and to teach the elements of love, kindness, and social intelligence one step at a time. As the Talmud says, “one good deed leads to another.“

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