I sure was frazzled that day. I’d lived here in Israel for six months, trying to get my five kids used to the country and the language, dealing with my husband’s travel schedule, tackling Israeli offices of bureaucracy.

But I’d gotten a phone call from my cousin Orit on a Friday afternoon. She told me that her dad, Shlomo, was sitting shiva for his younger brother who’d had cancer. Shlomo and Rivka are distant relatives of mine. But when my own grandmother, normally quite shy and new to America in the 1920s, stood up in synagogue to collect money for her poor relatives in then-Palestine, she forged a bond that has withstood generations.

So the two years I’d spent as a student in Israel, over 20 years ago, meant a home away from home in Haifa. Rivka and Shlomo were like my own parents, making sure I was happy, insisting I sleep over so they could do my laundry and have a home-cooked meal, calling to check on me.

So Shlomo was sitting shiva and I was torn. I had too much to do and not enough time to get it done. And I get back aches from long rides in the car. I knew that the three hours of driving to and from Kiryat Bialik would wreck my back. But Shlomo and Rivka looked after me like I was their own daughter.

Then I remembered what I learned in a Torah class a long time ago. When you have a mitzvah to do and you don’t feel like doing it but you do it anyway, it’s like you’ve done something extra. It counts even more. Because you’re not doing something just out of the goodness of your own heart. You’re overcoming your resistance and doing something because God said so. Because He makes the rules and it’s better for our souls if we follow them. Because the bottom line is that it’s not up to me to be a kind and caring person when I feel like it. I need to be a kind and caring person when I don’t feel like it. Even when I’m frazzled and visiting Shlomo means my whole day is shot.

It was the best backache I’ve ever had. Seeing Shlomo’s face when he saw me arrive, hearing him tell everyone how far I’d traveled just to visit, listening to his stories about his brother and how he had loved life – it was so worth the trip.

And I got it. I saw that the long drive was not just for Shlomo. It was for me, too, for my soul. I touched another person and made him feel special and important, and I knew I’d done the right thing.

My day was far from shot. Instead of being just one day among the blur of many, the day I visited Shlomo will always stand out in my mind as the day I gave up in order to show someone my love and support. I only hope it helps me next time I have the opportunity to do an inconvenient mitzvah.