Midot HaYom: Day 3 – Tiferet in Chesed
A pious man regularly gave charity. Once, he set sail on a ship, and a raging storm sank the ship in middle of the sea. Rabbi Akiva, sailing on another ship, watched the ship sink and came before the Jewish court to testify that the pious man’s wife could remarry. However, before he could take the stand, the man came and stood before him. “Are you not the man I watched drown?” Rabbi Akiva asked. “Yes,” he replied. “Who raised you up from the sea?” “The charity I gave raised me out of the sea.” “How do you know this?”
“When I sank to the depths of the sea, I heard a loud noise of the waves speaking to each other. ‘Hurry, let’s raise this man out of the sea, for he gave charity all his life!’ they said.” Hearing this, Rabbi Akiva raised his voice, declaring, “Blessed be God, the Lord of Israel, Who has chosen the eternal words of the Torah and the words of the sages, which endure forever, as it says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1) It also says, “Charity rescues from death.” (Proverbs 10:2) Avot of Rabbi Nathan 3:9
We can change the very balance of the world with our charitable acts. We restore balance and beauty to the life of the person who benefits from our Chesed. That balance and beauty become part of the Chesed – Life Force – that gives the world its existence, and the creation will respond in kind.
It is not enough to hand over some cash to a beggar. Our Chesed must itself be beautiful, and should be done in such a way that we allow something beautiful to be added to the recipient’s life.
A kind and respectful word adds both elements of Tiferet; beauty and balance.
We can use our time as “charity” by taking out the time to listen to someone who is hurting and, rather than preach about faith and trust, express admiration for their ability to manage their difficulties.
Helping someone gain perspective is Tiferet.