Rabbi Tzvi Muller of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Chai Center is known as “the kindness rabbi.” He has developed and teaches a curriculum of Jewish teachings about kindness in everyday life called “Wisdom for Kind, Ethical and Mindful Relationships.”
The JN checks in with Muller about kindness.
Why is kindness so important in our world today?
Kindness is very important in our world today! Acting kindly brings us inner peace, fulfillment and happiness. Kindness is the ultimate expression of who we are. Judaism teaches that what defines us as human beings is our inner Godliness, our innate voice of kindness. When we act kindly, we align our actions with our core values, our essence. (Incidentally, the word “kind” has its origins in Old English, where it meant “essence, natural, innate.”) Reports from the arena of psychology these days indicate we need kindness more than ever now.
Do small things, such as asking a student to join your group for lunch, really make a difference in the overall scheme?
Kindness creates a sense of kinship and peace across humanity. We care for other people because we see them as fellow human beings, part of us. More importantly, when we do an act of kindness, no matter how small, we induce a sense of kinship between the giver and the receiver and, by extension, all of humanity. In a world torn apart by divisiveness, more kinship and unity is very much needed.
What can people do, on a regular basis, to make the world a kinder place?
The opportunities are ever-present and endless. The key is to have a “kindness mindset,” which can be created by doing a few simple things:
- Pick a simple and specific kindness and schedule it into your daily routine. For example, call an elderly person every day to say hello and see how they are doing.
- Strengthen your relationship with a kind person. The more kind people are in our lives, the more we keep kindness on our minds and in our hearts. An extension of this concept is to join a group of people for kindness activities, such as Samaritans 365.
- Seek out stories of kindness. Add books of kindness stories to your reading list. Save videos of kindness stories when you see them on Facebook or other social media. Watch them again when you need some inspiration.
- When encountering another person, stop and ask yourself: “How would I like to be treated if I were this person?” Then do something for them that you would want others to do for you. It could be as simple as offering a warm smile or a compliment, or giving them the benefit of the doubt.
- As the great sage Hillel said: Go and learn. Jewish teachings are rich with insight, inspiration and guidance for living kindly. Regular study of these teachings transforms a person’s mindset, understanding and preparedness for making the most of life’s kindness opportunities.
For more information about Rabbi Tzi Muller’s “Wisdom for Kind, Ethical and Mindful Relationships” curriculum, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to know more about kindness in our community? Check out Embracing Kindness – Samaratins365.