In the Jewish tradition, kindness is expressed with the Hebrew word chesed (beginning with a “ch” sound, as heard in the name “Bach,” and rhyming with “bless-ed”).
Chesed, like many Hebrew words, does not translate precisely into English. The word means more than simply “kindness.” Often translated as “loving-kindness,” chesed means giving oneself fully, with love and compassion.
THE VALUE OF CHESED
The concept of chesed appears in the Torah more than 190 times. For this reason, many Jewish thinkers hold the value of loving-kindness up as Judaism’s primary ethical virtue.
In talks about chesed, contemporary Jewish scholar and teacher Avivah Zornberg has said chesed is “not just loving-kindness as it’s usually translated, but is also courage and imagination.”
Indeed, Judaism teaches us to lift up each day and make it special. With acts of chesed, we do just that.
CHESED & PJ LIBRARY
Looking for other chesed-related resources?
Printable Lunchbox Notes to Spread Kindness
Jewish Children’s Books about Kindness
Activities to Share the Warmth
Kindness Card Games & Activities
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June 3, 2015