In Judaism, there are only three sins where one must choose death rather than transgress. The first one is murder; if you are told to kill or be killed, you must choose to be killed. The second includes immoral sexual acts like incest; if you are told you will be killed if you don’t participate in an act, you must choose death. The third is idolatry; if forced to choose between death or denying the existence of God, one must choose death.
The only other time is when the religion itself is threatened, meaning when being forced to convert on a mass basis, one must choose death rather than convert.
These grand acts—in my mind at least, since I have never been put to the test— sound relatively easy for me. I would be willing to die a hero in God’s eyes.
The more difficult part for me are the small acts, the acts that go unnoticed, the acts that I don’t get any recognition for, the acts that are truly important, yet not heroic.
I find that words of affirmation, encouragement, and appreciation are hugely important to me and they make my act of kindness feel so much greater. I’m assuming this is why heroic acts are easier than small acts of unnoticed kindness.
If this isn’t a challenge for you, and if you do the right thing no matter what, my hat is off to you.
However, if you do struggle with this, how do you show up properly when the stakes are small? How do you make sure to treat everyone with a smile and with kindness? How do you make sure to do the right thing even when you don’t want to?
I’m reminding myself of my definition of service, which is performing an act of kindness to another, without any expectation of return.
When I have expectations, that is when I crave recognition. When I don’t need recognition, I begin to self-recognize that by acting appropriately and being of service by greeting others with a smile, I begin to reap the true benefits, as that is the muscle that shifts my soul into a state of joy.
This week, let’s work on reminding ourselves that it’s the small acts of kindness that are most important for our souls. Let’s check in on those we love, ask them sincerely how they are doing, and greet everyone with a smile.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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