Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Problem With Giving to Everyone Except Your Family

I wrote an answer to a question posed by A Simple Jew on the topic of being involved with every Chesed, Shul activity or kiruv opportunity but totally neglecting one's family. The posting can be found here.

I'll copy/paste A Simple Jew's question to me below.

A Simple Jew asks:

There once was a man who was the epitome of selflessness. The needs of others were paramount in his eyes and his tremendous acts of kindness remain legendary to this day. As inspiring as he was, there was one tragic aspect to his personality. Perhaps he considered his wife and children as part of himself, however for reasons that we will never know, his selflessness did not extend to them. He was always caring for others and was not able to provide the attention that his wife expected. In the end, his selfless nature cost him his marriage.

This man was certainly on a level miles above me. As I have reflected on this man's life, I am reminded of a teaching I once saw from Rabbi Chaim Vital:

"When a person faces his judgment in Olam Haba, he is not evaluated according to how much he helped other people. He may be a tremendous activist, may be constantly running from one affair to another, may be constantly involved in one project or another, but his worth is measured according to how he behaved with his wife and children. The way a person acts with his family reflects who he really is."

As with all great men, had this man devoted himself solely to his family he would not have been able to leave behind the world with all the precious gifts that he left behind. However, based on this teaching from Rabbi Chaim Vital, in your opinion should this man have followed a different path and devoted himself to his family instead?

Dixie Yid answers...

-Dixie Yid

(Painting "Waiting for Dad" courtesy of Silver Dove Gallery)

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