Posted by: R Jonathan Gewirtz | March 30, 2016

Chasida – The “Kind” Stork

It’s amazing how helpful people want to be. I had someone call me up to give me an idea for an article because he saw that I wrote how hard it can be to come up with ideas. Well, he was rather hot under the collar and steamed about an incident that took place. He wanted me to badmouth people who are selfish and don’t care about other people. I can’t do that in good conscience. Klal Yisrael is a nation of good people. There are enough people badmouthing us that I don’t need to do it too.

For example, take his situation. He was driving down a small residential street. The driver of the car ahead of him called a greeting to a fellow raking leaves in his driveway. The raker (is that a word? In Hebrew would it be raikan?) stopped raking and approached the car to chat. Our friend lightly leaned on his horn to alert them that he was there. The talkers, sensing his objection, instantly reacted and gave him a look of, “Can’t you see I’m talking?! What Chutzpah you have to honk!”

He saw that as bad middos. I say it shows what Ahavas Yisrael they have. I mean, to totally be oblivious to everything else in the world because you are talking to a beloved fellow Jew… that’s amazing. It shows how important your friend is to you. What could be wrong with that?

Take another example. The school bus pulls up and stops traffic in both directions. The mothers of these children, out of protective love for their young offspring want to ensure the bus comes to a complete stop before getting their child’s coat on and sending them back to the hall closet to get their backpacks.

Our friend would want them to realize that other people are waiting to pass and it’s unfair to make them sit there immobile for the three to four minutes this whole procedure takes, and have the child ready and waiting to board the bus. Obviously, he is not concerned about children’s safety. However, our vigilant parent makes sure the child is not subjected to the strain of waiting for the bus on top of the stress of school. Such parental love; and yet, some people don’t see the beauty of it.

In fact, you are likely to find these mothers in the supermarket. You can spot them because they wait until everything is packed and the cashier is waiting with the total to begin unzipping their pocketbooks and searching for their checkbooks. Why? Well, they wouldn’t want that poor cashier to feel pressured that the customer was waiting for them, would they?

And forget about finding a pen for their checkbook or filling out the store’s name on the check – the cashier might get flustered and scan something wrong, causing them to void it and rescan! How awful. No, this woman calmly waits for the order to be complete. In fact, to make the transaction completely stress-free for the cashier, this woman may have a loud conversation with a woman in the next checkout aisle to show that she is oblivious to what’s going on at her own checkout register.

There is precedent for this behavior in the Torah. The Torah lists various types of birds, one of which is called the “chasida” meaning the kind or pious one. Chazal tell us that this bird cares deeply about its family and close friends and ensures that they have what they need. The problem is that this bird is “chazer-treif!”

Because it only thinks about those it is close to, without thinking about the wider world around them, its kindness is severely deformed and misplaced. That can probably be the explanation for the behavior of people like our “rake-on” from earlier. He does love his fellow Jews, but only when they’re HIS fellow Jews. As far as he’s concerned, the rest of us can fly south for the winter. Far south.

It is an emulation of this bird that we find when people “reserve” parking spaces for their friends by leaving the shopping carts in the spots closest to the store when they leave. Similar to leaning a chair up at a dinner, this method of reservation ensures that nobody else can take that spot.

Wait, you tell me you’re not reserving the parking space for anyone?! Even when you leave your shopping cart in a spot instead of taking the extra fifteen to twenty seconds to return it to the front of the store?! Then you’re even worse than the chasida! At least she thinks of some of her fine-feathered fellows; you’re only thinking about yourself!

Well, I think that’s probably what our friend who suggested that topic for this column would say. But I’m not going to. No way. I care too much about people’s feelings to say anything.

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