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Compassion – Rachamim

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Compassion is an extremely noble trait. It is one of the Thirtheen traits of attributed to the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is writtgen: “Compassionate and gracious.”All that one can doin cultivating this trait, he should exert himself to do. Just as one would want compassion in his time of need, so should one have compassion on others who are in need.

(Orchot Tzaddkikim)

The Hebrew word for compassion is rachamim. It is a doubling word of the word rechem, meaning womb. In the womb is a child, warm, secure, safe, a place where it can grow and develop.

This is the way we should treat our neighbour. We should offer them a safe place, where they can develop. A place where they have warmth, food, etc.

Scripture particularly points out that we should have compassion for orphans, widows and poor people.

Anyone who shows compassion to other people is a follower of Abraham and walks in his footsteps. Even in his pain – after circumcision – he stood up to welcome guests. When he heard about the judgement of Sodom, he stood up to implore compassion from G-d.

The Talmud asserts that “anyone who is not compassionate wiht people is certainly not a descendant of – our forefather – Abraham”.

While not all Noahides are physically descended from Abraham, we are spiritually descended from him if, like him, we recognise G-d as the One and Only Eternal and shape our behaviour to be a true image of Him. Just as He is compassionate, and just as Abraham was compassionate, we should be so in today’s world with our neighbour.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Pirkei Avot, Everyday Holiness by Alan Morinis

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