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Lech Lecha 5770

Lech Lecha (Genesis 12-17 )

by Kalman Packouz


GOOD MORNING! Last week I wrote about the value of an act of kindness and how Henry Percal's kindness in protecting a young Cuban boy at a Military Academy ultimately saved his family. This week I would like to share some ideas to help people actually act kinder. The outward act brings the inner appreciation!

Avraham our forefather is the paradigm of kindness. Not all people are intrinsically kind, but we can all work on being kinder - with varying results. The story is told of a drill sergeant in World War II who was ordered by his lieutenant to inform Private Feebish that his mother passed away. The sergeant, not the epitome of tact and kindness, called his squad to attention and announced, "Feebish, your mother died. Troops dismissed!" When the lieutenant heard what had happened, he was so horrified that he sent the sergeant to Tact School. Six weeks later the sergeant returns just in time, unfortunately, to inform the private that his father had passed on.

The sergeant called his squad to attention and announced, "Everyone whose father is still alive, take three steps forward. Feebish ... not too fast."

All of us can aspire to be kinder and to do more acts of kindness. Hopefully, the following 20 ideas developed by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin will help someone you know be kinder and to help make this a better world.



  1. Be resolved to become a kind person. How do you do this? Think, speak, and act with kindness.
  2. Love kindness. When you do what you love, you are happy. A master of kindness is a master of joy.
  3. When encountering someone, let your first thoughts be, "What kind words can I say to this person and what kind things can I do?"
  4. Keep asking people, "What can I do for you?"
  5. Everyone needs encouragement. Ask yourself, "What can I say that will be encouraging?"
  6. Wherever you are, you are there for a reason. Ask yourself, "Since I am here now, what kindness can I do?"
  7. Every kind person is unique. You have unique talents, skills, knowledge, and resources. Utilize them to help others in your own unique way. Ask yourself, "In what unique ways can I be kind?"
  8. Do a daily act of kindness without letting anyone know who did it.
  9. Learn from every kind act you see or read about. Ask yourself, "How can I learn from this to be kinder?"
  10. A valuable rule is, "Even if you don't feel like a kind person, you can still act like one." Think of a kind act you can do that you don't feel like doing.
  11. Think of a kindness telephone call that you can make today.
  12. Think of a kindness note, letter, or email that you can write today.
  13. View your own pain, distress, and suffering as tools for empathy and understanding. Ask yourself, "How can this experience help me be a kinder person?"
  14. Keep asking yourself, "If I were this person, what would I want others to do for me?"
  15. As soon as you recognize a need, volunteer to do something about it. Don't wait until you are asked.
  16. Listen to those who need a listening ear. Listening to someone is a great act of kindness.
  17. If you know that someone is looking for a job or needs to earn more money, ask yourself, "What can I do to make it happen?"
  18. Be empathetic and compassionate. Be resolved not to cause distress, pain, or loss with your words and action.
  19. Learn from everyone. Keep asking people, "What kindnesses from others have you appreciated?"
  20. Pray for the welfare of others.

If you would like more wisdom for being kinder, I highly recommend buying Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's Kindness: Changing People's Lives for the Better, available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

For more on "Kindness" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week
Lech Lecha

The Almighty commands Avram (later renamed Avraham) to leave Haran and go to the "place that I will show you" (which turned out to be the land of Canaan - later renamed the Land of Israel). The Almighty then gives Avram an eternal message to the Jewish people and to the nations of the world, "I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you I will curse." Finding a famine, Avram travels to Egypt (once renamed to be part of the United Arab Republic) asking Sarai (later renamed Sarah), to say she is his sister so they won't kill him to marry her (the Egyptians were particular not to commit adultery ... so they would kill the husband instead).

Pharaoh evicts Avram from Egypt after attempting to take Sarai for a wife. They settle in Hebron (also known as Kiryat Arba) and his nephew, Lot, settles in Sodom. Avram rescues Lot - who was taken captive - in the Battle of the Four Kings against the Five Kings.

Entering into a covenant with the Almighty (all covenants with the Almighty are eternal, never to be abrogated or replaced by new covenants), Avram is told that his descendants will be enslaved for 400 years and that his descendants (via Isaac, "... through Isaac will offspring be considered yours" Gen. 21:8) will be given the land "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."

Sarai, childless, gives her handmaid Hagar to Avram for a wife so that he will have children. Ishmael (the alter zedeh - the grandfather -of our Arab cousins) is born. The covenant of brit mila, religious circumcision, is made (read 17:3-8), God changes their names to Avraham and Sarah and tells them that Sarah will give birth to Yitzhak (Isaac). Avraham circumcises all the males of his household.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And He (Avram) relocated from there to the mountain in the east of Bait El and pitched his tent" (Genesis 12:8).

The word for tent in Hebrew is "ohel"; "his tent" is "ohalo." Why does the Torah spell "his tent" with the feminine suffix, the letter "hei"?

The Midrash comments that this teaches us that Avram first pitched his wife's tent and then his own. From here we learn that when a husband needs to do something for himself and for his wife, he should take care of his wife's need first. Avram understood that there is a higher level of pleasure in honoring and helping his wife than in having his tent pitched first!


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Better an insincere smile than a sincere slap.


Happy Anniversary

Avraham & Esther Packouz


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

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