The Power of Good Deeds
“On three things the world stands: on the Torah, on prayer, and on good deeds”–Tractate Avot
The power of good deeds has never ceased to amaze me. Whenever I delve into my past and try to figure out why G-d has granted me the gift of life over and over again, I realize it must have been something in my past: perhaps offering a word of encouragement to an elderly woman, perhaps giving charity to someone I didn’t know and would never meet again, maybe it was just feeding to a stray animal trying to find some shelter in bad weather. I obviously don’t know–and can never wish to understand the “dealings of Heaven”, but it’s almost like I can feel the reaction from Above when I–or someone around me does a good deed.
Words, too, are a powerful tool at our disposal. We can use these for good–and at the same time, for bad. I’m sure there’s a reason the tongue is guarded by a set of teeth, as well as one’s lips; perhaps this is so that saying something, whether we like it or not, involves the involuntary process of opening one’s mouth (and thus we’re forced to think before we speak). I think that the vast majority of trouble I’ve gotten myself into has been a result of speaking prior to thinking. And this is liable to doom not just a recent ba’al tshuva like myself, but the most righteous individual–not to mention a sensitive entity such as an interpersonal relationship.
I guess the best I can do is focus on learning–and trying not to repeat my mistakes. I can also inspire others not to make the mistakes I’ve made and this is what I try to do in the book I’m hoping to complete by mid-August. I feel that I’ve been privileged to fall and keep right on going and I want others to do the same. Rebbi Nachman (ZT”L) teaches that the worst part of a sin is what happens right afterwards when one feels sadness over his/her actions. The Rebbi teaches that one should keep on going as if nothing has happened.
Yes, of course he/she should do tshuva (repent) for his/her sins, but the innitial reaction should be one of forgetfulness: “Let’s start anew! No matter how far one has fallen he has the power to get back up and return to G-d. This is the process of “tshuva”–repentance and it has great power. Perhaps, along with good deeds and acts of lovingkindness, it’s the one most significant concept in Judaism.
Back to good deeds. There’s a reason I wanted to publish this now. Amazing things are taking place amongst the Nation of Israel. Jews are coming to Israel from all corners of the Earth, the “settlements” in Judea and Samaria are growing at an unprecedented rate, and some of our top politicians are returning to the faith of their fathers. Every day, the State of Israel wakes up and realizes its living out the words of the prophet “And sons shall return to their borders.”
Each and every single one of you is responsible for ushering in the “footsteps of Moshiach.” Not one good deed; not one good thought goes for naught as it is written: “G-d knows the thoughts of the heart…” Every day, we utter the words “…Because they (Torah) are our life and the value of our days.” Living in Jerusalem, it’s difficult not to feel that this is the redemption our people have been seeking from time immemorial; that this is an age unlike any other in the annals of human history.
We must take advantage of the chances we’ve been given to be a truly “holy nation, a nation of priests.” We must take advantage of this amazing opportunity and be the best sons, the best daughters, the best husbands and wives we can possibly be because this is what life is all about.
I write this from my apartment in Jerusalem and I know that just like G-d “vomits” His people from our Land when we’re unworthy of inhabiting it, he “bring(s) back the exiles from the four corners of the Earth…” It’s my honor and priviledge to be a part of the process of Redemption. I hope that by performing acts of kindess and by doing good deeds I can merit to usher in Moshiach ben David.