When Kindness is Not Enough

Feeding the poor concept with dirty kid receiving slice of bread - on blackShe comes up to him at the bar, offers him and his buddies a drink, and immediately he knows… she’s the one, the woman of his dreams.  After immediately bedecking her with lots of jewelry, he takes her home to introduce her to his parents.  “Mom!  Dad!  I want you to meet my finance!  Her name is… um, what’s your name again?”  Dad whispers to Mom, “Honey, our son has lost his marbles!”

In Biblical Dating Basics 101, class begins with the 1st “shidduch” (matchmaking) ceremony of all times.  Abraham (our Great Great Zaydie) has to find a match for his beloved son.  He sends someone back to his family’s original stomping grounds, finds a nice looking girl who offers water from the well for him and his camels (those animals can drink!), and voila!  It’s a match made in heaven!  How can things be so simple?

Now, don’t you dare start singing it.  I know you’re thinking it!  Don’t do it…  Uh oh, here it comes… Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…  Or nowadays, it’s more like “JDate or JSwipe please make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch…”  Times haven’t changed much, eh?  What’s the difference?  In JSwipe they get to see each others’ faces (as if anyone reads profiles anymore)?  I think it’s time to take a deeper look and see a profound lesson for the dating world from Biblical Dating Basics 101.

Zaydie Abraham sent his messenger on a long trip through the desert back to homeland. He had a large company of 10 camels with him.  They were exhausted!  Tired!  And, as you’d be too if you spent a few days in the desert, they were thirsty.  In fact, water is probably the most important commodity they needed right then.

This young girl comes along and offers to give him water.  Not only does she offer to him, but she offers to provide for his 10 camels!  Do you know how much a camel can drink?  20-30 gallons in one sitting!  How big is her bucket?!  You know how many times she must’ve gone down the well to bring that water out for everyone?  And did she have any idea who this person is?  Not a clue.  He was a complete stranger.  Yet she saw he was thirsty, and she was willing and wanting to give, share, and put significant effort into helping him.  She didn’t say, “Here’s my bucket.  Help yourself.”  She made an extreme effort to do this kind and thoughtful deed.  She saw how exhausted they must have been.  She imagined how hard desert travel is.  And she reached out to this stranger to take care of him and provide, despite the efforts it took on her part.  At that point, he knew, this is the one.  She will be the perfect spouse with whom to build the Jewish people.

People make lists of all the qualities they’re looking for in their future significant other.  Kindness is often on the list, as she says with dreamy eyes, “He has to be kind.”  But here we see a profound lesson in kindness.  Just being kind does not make the cut.  It was not enough if she would’ve given a big smile, a warm “welcome” greeting, then went merrily on her way.  It was the fact that she put effort, laborious effort, into her kind actions.  This was a sign of greatness.  And this is a key component in dating, when looking for that special someone to share a lifetime with.  Because there will be times of challenges, exhaustion, physical and emotional thirst.  It’s only kindness through strength and efforts that can quench our thirsts and create that space for a relationship to thrive.

Unfortunately, we can’t bring our camels to the local bar to see who will offer them to drink.  Even if we did, pouring from the faucet just doesn’t compare with the efforts of drawing from a well.  So what’s a nice young dater to do?  I will humbly make a few suggestions.

Don’t just go out for dinner, a movie, or a play.  Go do something that entails giving.  Find a local organization that gives to the poor, and jump in to volunteer together there.  Or if you’re very rambunctious, take the money you’d be spending on your dinner, go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of sandwich basics, make ’em, and go walk the streets downtown together as you give them away!

For a few local hot spots for “kindness dating” in the Chicago Jewish community, check out the Uptown Cafe, the ARK, Chicago Chesed Fund, or TOV for volunteer opportunities.  I think you’ll have a great time together, and you’ll have the opportunity to really get to show each other and build together a relationship built on strong efforts of kindness.

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