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Jun 27, 2011

An Act of Kindness

I've heard (and can at least partially corroborate through personal experience) that if you ask any number of women whether they'd rather have a dozen roses all at once or a single rose twelve times that they would all reply they would rather be gifted a single rose twelve separate times. The idea being that in a woman's eyes each act of kindness is important, and having twelve separate gifts is thus more desirable than a single act of kindness with great magnitude (Credit: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus).

It made me wonder... 

Then I happened upon the following story:
They asked the Baal Shem Tov, "The Talmud tells us that for everything G-d forbade, He provided us something permissible of the same sort. If so, what did He permit that corresponds to the sin of heresy?" The Baal Shem Tov replied, "Acts of kindness." Because when you see a person suffering, you don't say, "G-d runs the universe. G-d will take care. God knows what is best." You do everything in your power to relieve that suffering as though there is no God. You become a heretic in God's name.

 Something clicked in my mind. Do you see it?


  1. I'd prefer the single rose.
    I guess I'm a weirdo.

  2. I do not see the correlation, actually. I need clarification.

    And I don't want flowers at all. I would prefer that over the years, what would be spent on flowers will add up to something that can go on my wrist. :)

  3. @ Sefardi Gal:

    That's what most women feel!

    @ Princess Lea:

    So you're saying that you'd rather get no gifts for three years (birthday, anniversary, chag and any other event during the year) and then get something large?


    The choice to do everything in my power to give and put a smile on another person's face instead of holding off for some large(r) act will create more connections. Engendering empathy, understanding, caring, and loving. (Not that an absence of such gifts means a lack of loving.)

    A single act of kindness, even if it requires more investment, will not build a connection the way twelve separate acts of kindness will (assuming an equal total effort and investment, as with the roses).

    Rambam puts it this way: If a person has the opportunity to give a hundred zuz (or, say, dollars) to charity, they should give one each day. Because if a person gives one each day, then on the 101st day, they will again give. But if they give it all at once, one hundred days later they will not have the same impulse to give.

    The idea, of course, is that giving over and over builds a habit; it also creates more connections.

  4. Yes, Ish. I would forgo mementos of various occasions for one rockin' piece of bling. I think long term when it comes to gifts.

    But in terms of everyday gestures, one can do kindness in the little things in life which others will REALLY appreciate. Taking out the garbage. Feeding the kids dinner. Gassing up the car for the wife.

    Do that, your wife will be gushing about you to all the other women on the block.

  5. @ Princess Lea:

    Different people appreciate different things.

    Some women may take for granted that a husband should take the garbage out, feed the kids and gas the car. Others may appreciate it, but these things may not make her feel loved and cared for the way a weekend retreat, thoughtful card or (appropriately timed) massage would.

    Interestingly enough, Gary Chapman, who is an anthropologist and a couples counselor, wrote a book about how different people may experience and express love through different types of giving (it's called "The 5 Five Love Languages").

    I'm sure helping to make someone's life easier -even if it is simply a bit easier -definitely builds connections. I also believe women generally respond well to any act of kindness, no matter how small.