web analytics
August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


What Really Constitutes ‘Compassion’? (Pt. II)


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

I remember some years ago my encounter with a young man following one of my speaking engagements in London. “Rebbetzin,” he challenged, “I would truly like to be kinder and more considerate of others but I just don’t feel it. It’s not in my nature and I’m not a kid who can change, so if you give me a shortcut that could work me for I will take it on.”

I looked at him and saw he was sincere. “Let’s consider that for a minute,” I told him. “Have you ever analyzed exactly what constitutes your nature? Our sages provide us with profound insights into this subject. ‘A man is shaped by his deeds,’ they tell us, meaning that if you do something long enough, it becomes second nature and it is that which makes you ‘you.’ So, for example, if you become accustomed to nasty habits, you become a nasty person. If you become used to venting your feelings, you become an uncontrolled, angry individual. The converse is also true. If you act kindly, eventually you become kind. If you force yourself to give, in time, you become generous.

“The positive aspect of this teaching is reinforced in our Talmud: ‘Mitoch she’lo lishmah, ba lishmah’ – that which you initially do by rote, you will end up doing with sincerity if you persevere. The action will become so deeply imbedded in your psyche that it will actually transform your personality.”

He thought for a moment and responded, “But doing things by rote and without feeling or believing them sounds hypocritical to me.”

I then related a story written by the British author Max Beerbohm titled “The Happy Hypocrite.” It is about a gentleman named Lord George Hell, whose name mirrored his personality. His bad temper was reflected in his eyes, his face, his very demeanor. One day Lord George fell madly in love with a sweet, gentle, lovely maiden but she was so repelled by his appearance that she let him know that she could never entertain the thought of becoming involved with a man whose face was so cruel and angry.

So Lord George came up with a brilliant idea. He would commission a master artist to create a mask for him that would reflect a kind, benevolent, gentle person. Thus disguised, he called on the damsel, who immediately fell in love with him. They were married and lived happily together, until one day an old enemy came to visit and said to the woman, “You think that you are married to a kind, gentle man – I’ll show you who your husband really is!”

And with that he ripped the mask off Lord George’s face. But lo and behold, the face beneath the mask was identical to the mask.

Throughout their marriage Lord George had pretended to be gentle and generous so that his conduct would not belie his mask. This left a deep mark on his character and transformed him into the person he had pretended to be.

“A beautiful story,” said my new friend in London, “but it borders on the miraculous rather than on reality.”

“Miracles are our reality,” I replied – “if we so wish it.”

Do we not all become miracles when we change our nature? If you wish to find a shortcut to change yourself for the better, put on that “mask” and become the kind, compassionate person our Torah commanded all of us to be.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “What Really Constitutes ‘Compassion’? (Pt. II)”

  1. Gloria Rivera says:

    Beautiful lesson on compassion. May God continue to use you in writing such anecdotes that have His grace and unconditional love in it so many of us can learn to emulate such love. God knows the whole world is in such dire need of such wholesome values. Thank you so very much you beautiful lady..<3.

  2. Gloria Rivera says:

    May you all enjoy this beautiful story on compassion..so beautifully done and will surely touch your heart. Enjoy!

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

By internalizing the Exodus, it is as if we ourselves were redeemed from Egypt.

Neihaus-073115

Each Shabbos we add the tefilla of “Ritzei” to Birchas HaMazon. In it we ask Hashem that on this day of Shabbos He should be pleased with us and save us. What exactly do we want to be saved from? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about this Friday, the 15th of Av. Many […]

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Amongst the greatest disagreements in Judaism is the understanding of the 1st of the 10 Commandments

Daf-Yomi-logo

The Day He Heard
‘One May Seek Revocation Of A Confimation’
(Nedarim 69a)

The director picked up the phone to Rabbi Dayan. “One of our counselors lost his check,” he said. “Do we have to issue a new one or is it his loss?”

Six events occurred on Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av, making it a festive day in the Jewish calendar.

Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Snow in Jerusalem! For many New Englanders like me, snow pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings like nothing else can.

Man has conflicting wishes and desires. Man has forces pulling him in competing directions.

Perhaps the admonition here is that we should not trivialize the events of the past by saying that they are irrelevant to the modern Jew.

One must view the settlement of Israel in a positive light. Thinking otherwise is a grievous sin.

Reaching a stronger understanding of what Moses actually did to prevent him from entering the land

Anti-Zionism, today’s anti-Semitism, has gone viral, tragically supported globally & by many Jews

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Money comes and goes but its love, commitment, warmth, and kindness that make a family a family.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Zaidie’s legacy of smiles and loving words was all but buried with him, now the family fights over $

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

In every generation is the challenge to purge the culture of our exile from our minds and our hearts

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Pesach bonds families and generations: “So that you may relate it to your son and your son’s son.

Amalek’s hate never dies; its descendants are eternal & omnipresent; Hashem is our only protection

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/what-really-constitutes-compassion-part-two/2013/01/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: