One could say that the endurance of loving kindness is what propels human culture forward in a positive direction, the lifeblood of goodness, the hope of the world. Let me give you a couple of examples: One from my own life, and another from Torah.
Let’s just say that my mother did not have “the proverbial happy childhood.” (That’s a direct quote from her.) However, many times, I heard her speak of one grandmother, Halena, from whom she felt so loved and protected. She would reminisce how this grandmother bathed her
and made special food for her and sang to her.
Years later, when I realized that this grandmother lived in New York, and my mother grew up in the midwest, and people didn’t fly around like they do today, I asked my mother when she saw this grandmother. She replied, “She came out to visit once for about two weeks.” I was shocked at the profound impact Halena had had on my mother.
When I became bat mitzvah at age 45, the rabbi asked my mother if she would like to give me a Hebrew name after a specific relative. She chose Halena, which means light, in Greek, hence my name Me’irah. (And that was before I became an illuminator of texts!)
Because of this family story, I have believed that Moses was imbued with his Israelite identity during the period that his mother, Yocheved, nursed him, and bathed him, and sang him Hebrew songs before she had to return him to Batya, Pharaoh’s daughter. (Ex 2:9) So that when Moses left the palace one day to find a Hebrew slave being beaten (Ex 2:11–12) his identity lay with the Hebrew slave. And thus continues the whole story of the Exodus.
Lovingkindness endures and ripples outward, and one never knows the full extent of the goodness that can come from it.
Image by D'vorah Horn from her set of Omer Practice Cards (2016).