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Vayetzei(Genesis 28:10-32:3)

Choose To Do

Isaac had given Jacob a blessing that Esau, Jacob's brother, felt should have gone to him. Out of fear that his brother would harm him, Jacob left his parent's home. He went by a well and saw a woman, Rachel, who was there to water her father's flock. And it was....

"... when Jacob saw Rachel… Jacob came forward and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well and watered the sheep..." (Genesis 29:10)


Acts of kindness usually take place when someone makes a request from another person. It could be asking for someone's time, money, opinion, etc. The person being asked could either say yes or no, and if he says yes, then an act of kindness has taken place. This is certainly a praiseworthy act for the person who gave selflessly to someone else in need clearly did a mitzvah, a good deed.

But there's a much higher level that can be attained when doing acts of kindness. There's something you can do that can elevate your good deed into a great deed. This happens when someone anticipates the needs of others and without ever being asked, he simply comes forward. This is what Jacob did for Rachel. When you proactively do a good deed without ever being asked, then it transforms your act of kindness into an entirely new and higher dimension.

Most people are generally good, meaning, they'll usually do acts of kindness for others when asked. If someone needs something and we're able to give it to him without causing much discomfort for ourselves, most people will do it. These are good people doing good things. Some more, and some less.

Jacob, however, teaches us how to become a great person who does great things. Ironically, the act we proactively choose to do will usually be the same one we would do if asked. By acting first, however, it puts the same action on a radically higher level.

It's certainly more difficult to anticipate the needs of others and come forward, but now it becomes a supreme act of kindness because it was offered instead of being asked.

It's also important to know that many people also have a hard time just asking others for help. But they're in just as much need, if not more, as those who more easily ask others for assistance - Coming forward with them is of paramount importance.

So the next time you choose to come forward - and you do so without any provocation - and give someone a kind word, a small loan, or a helping hand, it will be an act equal to what Jacob did for Rachel at the well. And you will have done a great deed.

December 3, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, December 6, 2016 11:22 AM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(5) G Carter, November 20, 2015 4:05 PM

Thanks for the teaching

Surely, need this. I am doing my best to learn to trust and not doubt when people come and asked for a helping hand. It also allow me to know of being tested. "Just do it" and trust that Hashem has you cover.

(4) Anonymous, November 20, 2015 12:20 PM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(3) Anonymous, November 24, 2014 7:39 PM


This is great! Thank you so much for posting it! And thank G-d for Torah, Judaism, and those who help spread His word, like you :-)

(2) jay schiffres, November 24, 2012 12:40 PM

Be Careful What You Do

I enjoyed this commentary. However, lets look another way. Jacob moved the rock and the water flowed but what if Rachel was embarrassed by this act of kindness? Humiliated? And what of Jacob's motives? Could it be that he was attracted to Rachel? That he moved the Rock for his own motive ie. a date.. We may perceive others needing help. We act. Our act backfires.Take Iraq. We preceived that the people needed our military intervention. We later find out that there are no weapons of mass destruction but we continue the battle because we perceive that the people desires to rid itself of a tyrant. However, many of Iraq's population desired to stay with a mad man. Did the proactive gesture cause more pain to the people we thought we were helping.? How about motive? Was it oil?Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people died because we acted proactively. Simply put, if your going to do a great mitzvah, examine your reasons, if you have time, then go or not go forward. citizens of Iraq, died for our act of kindness. Or what about the old man who seems to have difficulty crossing the street. We act proactively and help him across. What if this person valued his indepence more then being helped? It could humiliate him. Clearly, we try to act out of pure motives but the act are not always pure. While the pretty Rachel could have been Issac's motive-he could also have been acting out of guilt for misleading his brother. The upshot is that Jacob remains estranged from Esau perhaps for more years then were necessary. We are only human.

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