Thursday, October 6, 2016

Second Baltimore Class

From top left: Nathaniel Davis, Rabbi Oliver, David Kinzer, Sonja Kinzer, NesChaya Davis, LaKeshia Davis
Second row: Batya Davis, Nina Kinzer, Nechamah Davis, Efrayim Davis

On September 20, we held our second class. In the most recent Noahide class, we discussed the three different forms of kindness that Avraham showed, and that we should emulate. 

-with one’s body—by doing favors for others using one’s body
-with one’s money (pretty straightforward)
-with one’s soul, by sharing spiritual guidance and personal advice to those with less wisdom and experience

Everyone should be kind with whatever they have to share, and not downplay the importance of their individual abilities to contribute to society. Some might imagine that since wisdom and advice are not tangible, sharing them does not constitute true kindness. However, in reality these intangibles can sometimes be of even greater assistance than money. Conversely, those who have money to share with the needy should surely not suffice with giving them advice. And sometimes people need neither money nor advice, but specifically physical assistance.

We also discussed the importance of integrity and fear of G–d when dispensing advice. When one person approaches another for advice, he is at that person’s mercy. He trusts him to give him advice that is in his own best interests. But if the giver of advice has a personal interest in the matter, he is unfit to give advice. His advice will be colored by his desire to derive personal gain, and he may even be tempted to knowingly give bad advice because he imagines that doing so is in his own best interest. (However, if the giver of advice makes a “full disclosure” of his personal stake in the matter, then there is no deception and so he may give advice.)

Thus, the challenge is to overcome the temptation to give bad advice and then claim that one “meant well,” knowing that no other mortal can know one’s thoughts. The key to withstanding this test is being G–d-fearing. In this connection, the Torah warns us “you shall fear your G–d,” for only when the person’s character is permeated with fear of G–d Who knows his hidden thoughts will he be protected from this temptation.