In working with my Bar and Bat Mitzvah students, I spend much of our time teaching, and applying, the 10 Mitzvot. Of the 613 commandments we received from G-d on Mt. Sinai, there are but 10 or so that still apply in our lives today. Those 10 are somewhat timeless, and we all need to do them, and experience them.
In order to enable my kids to really embrace these, I have them journal about whenever they catch themselves in the act of a mitzvah, or they observe others. We observe what that act looked like, how it made them feel, how it made others feel, and what positive change it made in the world. It really gets them clear about doing good deeds for others. But the magic that occurs, is that they find themselves doing more good things, recognizing the positive value of them, and creating more positive energy in their world, and the world around them.
So, it’s only fitting that I journal about my own experience pertaining to random acts of love and kindness…
I was on my way to Orlando. I had decided to take Amtrak, because they had the most amazing $32 fare from Fort Lauderdale. I was standing on the platform, waiting for the train, and I saw a young woman – she couldn’t have been more than 20 years old (Lauren’s age) and she was holding an infant. Next to her, there were 5 humungous suitcases and an infant car seat. I had already checked my luggage in, and the luggage clerk had already taken all of the passenger’s suitcases way down the platform, where the baggage would be stored. It was too late for her bags to get loaded in cargo. The train was 5 minutes away, and I wondered..How would she get on the train? How would she load her bags? Wasn’t anyone there to help her? She was alone, and all I could think of was that she could be my Lauren, and the thought broke my heart.
I approached her, and asked her if she was alone. Yes, she replied. She was.
I asked her if she needed help. Yes, she said. That would be so nice.
I asked her how she got there, and where she was going? She explained..Her husband dropped her off. He had to go to work. She was going to visit her Mother in Orlando. She was 19. (I was right) She was married when she was 16 years old. (Oy Gevalt) She wasn’t sad, in fact, she was quite happy, and spoke so kindly of her husband. She thought nothing of the fact that he couldn’t stay – he was a hard worker, and he had to be at his job to support them. She was happy to be able to go spend a month with her Mom, and visit relatives from out of town.
So, I offered to help. But, some of her luggage was bigger than I was! So, I walked up to a man at the platform, and asked him to help. No, he replied. I have a bad back…Can you ask someone else? (I can’t print here what my thoughts were at that moment). But, a nice man, named Don, who ended up sitting next to me on the train offered, and together, we got her loaded on the train, and settled into her seat. We asked the conductor to help her get off, and he assured us he would. Whew.
So, that was my kind deed for the day. Nothing major, but what a feeling I have had since then. What did I do? I stepped outside of my own needs and concerns, and put someone else’s first. I sweated a bit, in the 95 degree heat, but other than that – not much. The girl I helped was so appreciative, and knew that nobody was going to offer her any assistance, and she so appreciated what I had done. I felt so good, knowing that I put some really great karma out into the universe, and felt warmed by her appreciation.
The lesson I always want my kids to learn, is that the positive effect almost ALWAYS outweighs the effort. Can you imagine how great the universe would be if we all put forth the positive effort and got exponentially more positive effect in return?
What mitzvah have you done today, and how have you changed the world?