The concept of the word Mitzvah is very complex. In an attempt to
simplify, Mitzvah means commandment, a sacred Jewish obligation, and an
act of kindness.
The impact of
a mitzvah is simple and easy to understand. Kindness feels good. And a
kinder world is what we are striving for at Jewish Family Service. So
let’s Pay it Forward or Mitzvah goreret mitzvah (One mitzvah begets another).
Let’s share our stories to inspire each other. There are so many ways to do an act of kindness – so many ways to Pay it Forward.
Click here to tell us your story of how you paid it forward recently, then read more stories below!
Rabbi Aliza Berk
Director of the Jewish Healing Center at JFS
December 20, 2013
Several members of the staff at JFS have formed a committee which we
call the J-Team. The purpose of the J-Team is to find ways to infuse
Jewish values and learning throughout our agency. Our committee came up
with the idea to design a plastic coin with the words, “This is a token
of kindness – Do a mitzvah and pay it forward,” which we distributed to
all JFS staff who attended our annual holiday party.
I decided to give it a try. One day after work, I stood in a long
line at Von’s waiting to pay for my groceries. When I offered to have
the woman and young child standing behind me go in front of me, she
smiled and thanked me profusely. I handed her the J-Team’s coin. She
happened to be Jewish and understood that a mitzvah in this context is a
good deed done to help someone else. I encouraged her to pass the coin
on by performing her own random act of kindness.
According to an article in The New York Times entitled,
“Ma’am, Your Burger Has Been Paid For,” the expression was popularized
by the novel “Pay It Forward” by Catherine Hyde Ryan and adapted into a
film starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. As we all know, it simply
feels good to do a good deed for someone else, even a stranger. I know
that the young woman’s smile and words of appreciation lifted my spirits
and warmed my heart.
In the Book of Proverbs we read, “A happy heart is as healing as
medicine.” (Proverbs 17:12). During this holiday season, find an
opportunity to perform your own random act of kindness and share your
story here. Imagine if each one of us performs an act of kindness for a
random stranger, who then pays it forward, and so on. Each act of
kindness may help repair the brokenness of our world (tikkun olam). When
it comes down to it, isn’t this the underlining message of the holiday