Ripples of Kindness

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
No wind to blow

(From the Grateful Dead song “Ripple” – Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter)

With the Start of the New Year – secular that is – I want to share a true story of another new year. On the Second day of  Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, in an Orthodox Synagogue, five men are called up to offer a blessing on the Torah reading for the day from the book of Genesis. In Hebrew this is called an “Aliyah,” related to the word for going up.

The first Aliyah is given to a Cohen (in English a priest) whose family tradition identifies him as a descendant of Aaron, the first high priest and brother of Moses.[1]   The second is from the tribe of Levi and the rest are like me, regular, Jews.   In our synagogue the Aliyot (the plural for Aliyah) for Rosh HaShanah are auctioned to raise money for the synagogue and awarded to the highest bidder.

Some of you may know that my son Gideon has a rare genetic syndrome, Prader Willi Syndrome, which causes him to confuse feelings of hunger and satiety.  Though generally high-functioning, he is intellectually challenged.   He wears his emotions on his sleeve and has been described as disinhibited.  Many of my friends tell me that he says things they wish they could say and expresses feelings they wish they could express. Most typically his attitude towards life and the people he meets is positive.

When Gideon receives the honor of an Aliyah, his face glows with enthusiasm and happiness.  One member of my congregation has told me that he should get one every week to wake the rest of us from our complacency and bring us to an appreciation of what is going on around us.

So with this in mind, I thought it would be good to bid on the third Aliyah for Gideon.  The bidding started at $250.  “$300” I responded to a request for a bid at that number.  And then I noticed someone behind me placed a bid for $350.  I motioned to bid at $400 and was again outbid.  I had reached my limit and said to myself, “The fourth Aliyah is not so bad.”

After I succeeded in winning that bid at $300, two of my fellow congregants Avi and Jared informed me that their bid was for Gideon.  And so their generosity gave me the opportunity to give the Aliyah that I bid on to the Rabbi who leads our daily session of learning a page of Talmud, the encyclopedic commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures and source of Jewish law, in appreciation for all he does.

An act of kindness is like a ripple in still water.  No literal pebble is tossed but the ripples spread out to allow for other acts of kindness – some through inspiration and some through providing the wherewithal for another act of kindness.  And so it was.

We hope through what we do in helping our clients achieve peace of mind that we can allow them to perform their own acts of kindness, and there’s no telling what the ripple effect of those acts might be.

[1] Some genetic studies have confirmed that more than 80% of the subjects studied who claim to be Cohens or Cohanim have an identical genetic marker in their “Y” chromosome, which is the chromosome that causes babies to become males.  For information on these fascinating studies please follow this link: The DNA Chain of TraditionFor a less religiously oriented and more current discussion of this phenomena, see the Wikipedia article on the subject:  Y chromosomal Aaron.

Written by Attorney David B. Goldstein,

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