Jew in the suburbs

Small act of Kindness
September 1, 2008, 11:58 pm
Filed under: disabillity, Jewish, Shabbos | Tags: , , , , , ,




Hello Blog Readers,



I don’t know about you, but I am afraid to ask for help on the occasions that I need it.

In short the reason is that I have a disability and feel people expect me to need help.  I thank G-d that I manage very well and don’t want people to think that I am helpless.  I don’t want people to think that others with disabilities are helpless just because of their situation.  At times, I will be writing about disabilities.  Now is not that time.  I just thought I needed to give you some insight into why what many would call a simple act of kindness touched me so deeply.


As I walked to Shul, Synagogue, Saturday morning, I thought about how nice it was to be away from the pressure of the week.  When I got to the door of the building, a man opened it for me, I said thank you, he said Shabbat Shalom; I returned his greeting wishing him a good Sabbath and began to walk toward the side of the women’s section closest to me. 


I heard the man ask me if I needed a Siddur, a prayer book.  I turned and answered yes quickly seeing that he was already removing a second Siddur from the large book case.  When I got to the Women’s section door, he opened that for me too.  And once again, I said thank you. He just nodded.  Truth be told, I am not sure that he heard me say thank you.   Instead of just handing me the Siddur, he stepped into the entrance of the women’s section.  I was surprised and saw that the seat I usually sit in was taken.  I turned back to him, told him I could take it from here, and took the Siddur from him.  He quickly left.  I found a seat and began to pray feeling so grateful for the kindnesses of G-d and the kindnesses of human beings.


Many people would say, he opened the door for you, that’s nice.  And yes it was kind, but what’s the big deal? (The big deal is that he made my life easier, since it is a struggle for me to open a heavy door, and carry a heavy book a long way.  But he did it without making me feel different from everybody else, or helpless.) I accepted this person’s help so happily because of the way it was offered.  When he opened the Shul door for me I felt that he would do that for anyone who needed the door opened.  He wished me a good Shabbos the way he would wish anyone a good Shabbos.  When he entered the women’s section, my prayer book in hand, I sensed that he expected and was perfectly happy to carry my Siddur to whatever seat I found.  He did this act of kindness with very few words and his expression conveyed to me that he would carry anyone’s Siddur if he found another person who needed it.  There was no pity in his voice or facial expression.  There was no urgency in his walk, as if he had to open the door for me and carry my Siddur because he saw that I had a disability.  He was not patronizing, there was no indication that he felt obligated to help me because he thought I was helpless.  I quickly took my Siddur while he was standing in the doorway of the women’s section because I did not want him to feel uncomfortable and I knew that  I did have the Siddur, that I could carry it to my seat but I truly was moved.


We human beings are taught to do acts of kindness; we are taught that an act of kindness is a Mitzvah, a commandment.   Most people think that opening a door for someone or helping someone carry a book or groceries is a small act of kindness.  People sometimes think that a small act of kindness doesn’t do much to help the world and that they need to do big things in order to help the world at all.  A small act of kindness isn’t so small and can make meaningful improvements.  I am almost positive, he didn’t think much, or at all about what he did to help me once the task was done.  He may not even remember opening the door for me next week, but he did and it made a big difference. It served as more evidence that there is human kindness and that is important to remember.