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    Kindly & truly – Vayyechi

    Jacob asks his family to act with kindness and truth (chessed ve’emet) towards him and not bury him in Egypt. (Gen. 47:29).

    The sages found the phrase chessed ve’emet very stimulating. The two words appear together so often that they must have an inbuilt link.

    Chessed does not always go with emet; if you act with chessed you sometimes contradict emet – and vice versa.

    Since chessed comes first we have to presume it is the primary word and the secondary word qualifies it. Hence the Torah puts into Jacob’s mouth the request that the family act towards him with true kindness. True kindness is completely unselfish.

    Often one does a kindly deed because – as the Pir’kei Avot tell us (4:2) – mitzvah goreret mitzvah, one good deed brings another in its train. If I do you a favour, you are likely to reciprocate and do me a favour in return.

    True kindness is where I do the good deed with no chance of reward.

    The best example is acting kindly towards the dead, since they cannot return the favour.

    Jacob is asking for that kind of chessed since he is on his death-bed and will soon be unable to do anything for anyone else.

    A Jewish burial society is sometimes called Chevra Chessed Shel Emet, “A society dedicated to true kindness”.

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