Are We Really So Bad?
by Rabbi Aron Moss
I see myself as a very kind person. I am always doing for others, I am the first to offer help. But people don't seem to appreciate my kindness. So I end up being even more giving, and then get burnt out and resentful. I am not looking for accolades, but sometimes I wonder whether it is worth being so giving when it isn't appreciated. So what should I do - be less giving?
The Kabbalah teaches that there are two distinct ways of giving to others. One is called being kind, the other is being considerate. And they are very different.
Kindness is the inclination to share of yourself. A kind person is a natural giver. But they give indiscriminately. They will be good to you whether you like it or not. They give and give, but not always are they aware of the receiver's needs.
A kind person will help an old lady across the street, even when the old lady wanted to stay where she was. They will clear your plate from the table to save you standing up, but you weren't finished your meal. Their kindness is indiscriminate, and sometimes undeserved. It may be appreciated and helpful much of the time, but not all of the time, because there is no consideration. The needs and circumstances of the other are not taken into account. It is their kindness, on their terms.
Then there is the considerate person. They are sensitive to the situation around them. They have antennae that pick up the needs and wants of others. They have tact and timing, they know when to step in and when to step out, when to give and when to hold back. They will sense when their giving is too much, or not warranted, or even damaging to the receiver.
It is much easier to be kind than considerate. A kind person is in control. They are responding to their own inner desire to give. But consideration puts the other person in control. Their giving is in response to the other's needs, not their own. So their efforts are directed to where they are most needed and appreciated.
You are a beautiful and kind person. But perhaps you need to work on your consideration. Are you giving wisely? Are your gifts arriving at the correct address, at the right time? There are times when the best gift is silence, and the kindest thing to do is nothing. So don't become less kind. Just become more considerate.