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Small Acts of Kindness: Striving for Derech Eretz in Everyday Life
Small Acts of Kindness: Striving for Derech Eretz in Everyday Life
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Derech eretz is, in its broadest sense, acting with consideration and kindness to oneメs fellow human beings, and in so doing, fulfilling the will of God. In Jewish religious terms, everyday life presents us with constant struggles to act in the correct way -- we are constantly battling between good and evil. It is a never-ending ethical drama in which the individual should always be striving to serve God in the best way possible. It means being able to transcend the mere formulaic response, yet, in turn, also being able to endure the anguish that true freedom of choice often encompasses.ヤ }}モIt is important to try to speak with those people who no one else seems to care for. This morning I spoke with a person who hangs out at the shul. He has a speech impediment, and is a harmless, quiet religious person. He is so alone but never complains. Today we talked more than ever before. He has such a smile of innocence and openness. I know how it is when you are alone, and suddenly someone listens to you and makes you feel that you are a human being again.ヤ ヨExcerpts from Small Acts of Kindness }}About the Author: }Shalom (Seymour) Freedman was born in Troy, New York, and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Cornell University. He came to Israel in 1974 in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. He studied Hebrew in the ulpan at Beit Haメam and served in the civil defense unit of the Israeli Army over a period of twelve years. He works in Israel as a free-lance writer and translator, and has contributed to a variety of Jewish publications. For many years he has participated in traditional Jewish learning in houses of study in the holy city of Jerusalem. }}He has co-authored two works of interviews with teachers of Torah which center on the theme of serving God (Avodat HaShem), In the Service of God and Learning in Jerusalem, and a book on the life and thought of Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, Living in the Image of God. He has also written a book of Jewish thought, Life as Creation: A Jewish Way of Thinking of the World, an autobiographical work, Seven Years in Israel: A Zionist Storybook, and a book of poems, Mourning for my Father. }}"Shalom Freedman has written a fascinating and insightful book about goodness and the quest for its regular performance.}The book is real and honest, sometimes even painfully so, and the reader will be astounded by the author's candor and self-analysis." -Rabbi Berel Wein }}"In a time of great turmoil and trouble in our society, each one of us, nonetheless, has many opportunities in the small encounters of everyday life to show kindness and be of help to others. In Small Acts of Kindness, Shalom Freedman tells his own story of such encounters in a realistic and instructive way. I highly recommend this work." -Dr. Miriam Adahan

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