Bird of Kindness
Shmini (Leviticus 9-11 )
In this week's Torah portion we are introduced to a white stork, known in Hebrew as a ‘chasida’, which comes from the word chesed – kindness.
In Hebrew the name of something reveals its inner essence; for the stork it is clearly kindness. But oddly enough this bird is actually included in the list of birds that we are not supposed to eat because of their cruelty! (Ramban)
Why can’t we eat this ‘kindness bird’?
The Chidushei Ha-Rim explains something fascinating. The stork gives out food to other creatures, but only to those that are considered to be his ‘friends’, not to all birds.
Since it doesn’t do kindness, for strangers it is considered to be impure and may not be eaten.
The lesson is clear: Kindness must be done for everyone!
Taking this one step further, Rabbi Dessler explains that people are only strangers to us because we have not yet given to them. If we start to bestow good onto strangers their status will actually change in our eyes, and they become like friends/relatives to us.
Let’s not limit our generosity and care to our own circle of friends, but reach out beyond our inner circles to make a difference to both friend and stranger alike.
(Idea about the stork adapted from Love Your Neighbour by Zelig Pliskin)